The Tragedy and Triumph of Kuromiya Rei

Note: If you want to get a handle on everything that happened with this story, why I added the point below, read the comments.

This is something that people need to take in.

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If you can’t Japanese, Viz Major provided a translation (with extra clarification in the comments) [Viz Major’s post was taken down; a translation appears in the comments]. This is important stuff.

The girl in the picture is Kuromiya Rei, mostly known for her work in Ladybaby but also of Miss iD and Brats fame. She shared this photo as a celebration of her 16th birthday. The image belies real emotional damage being worked out by a young woman who’s been an object of sexploitation since she started modeling at an age in the single digits. Her history has been covered here and extensively gone over all over the J-music world. It in no way should be considered an indictment of Rei, but of the adults who exploited and failed her.

There’s a lot of pain in her message, and the emotional and psychological damage are written plainly on her face, but she also shows hope and happiness with where she is now.

Editing to clarify: The updated translation paints a different picture of Rei’s current state; she is happy with where she is now, and doesn’t feel dead inside the way she did before. Her biggest issue is the mounds of haterade from people who want to hold her responsible for the choices made for her by her parents and agents when she was a child. Basically everybody that I just mentioned who isn’t named Rei should be thrown off a bridge.

Returning to original: Her story is working toward a much happier ending than I’m sure she sometimes feels.

That happier ending, as if this somewhat-buried lede weren’t fairly obvious, is a lot of forward movement in her musical career. The Idol Formerly Known as Ladybaby are releasing their first major single with King Records (full MV here), and her band, Brats (Facebook fans!), is on the move again, with the theme for Slaveman:

TY Ringo for the tip!

That’s only slightly weirder than Haruno Megumi’s thing! But Brats is an interesting band; I’ve always preferred them to Ladybaby/The Idol Formerly Known As.

Note to like every other teen band; this is edgier than you, with none of the irony

Which does remind me to eventually get around to playing Idol or Not Idol, but I digress.

Rei’s situation isn’t unique in idol*; most of the girls who are used the way she’s been don’t have her prospects or level of support, either. It’s cautionary in the sense that what we see publicly may be masking deep trauma, and that the industry chews up and spits out young people at a shocking rate; while we can see situations like Sakura Yuki’s for what they are, the fact remains, for instance, that the Alice Project has had plenty of accusations hurled against it and is just one example.

For now, we can support Rei (and other girls like her). Acknowledge where she’s been, congratulate her on where she is and celebrate where she’s going. You don’t have to be all about the creative product itself to support the performer, but give the music a listen and buy it if you like it. Tell other people about it. Build support on top of your own.

*Seriously, a lot of the things that people try to pin on idol as some kind of singularly nefarious entity are prevalent across the arts all over the world. Talk to people who work in fashion about the treatment of teen models. Dancers. Actors. Athletes. Basically, creeps are attracted to places that put them in proximity to vulnerable young people who implicitly trust the adults in that circle, and they can and will take advantage. It’s tragic that I’m pointing out how prevalent this is, because it is that prevalent.

22 thoughts on “The Tragedy and Triumph of Kuromiya Rei

  1. Thank you for the great article and for putting it in simple terms.

    Everyone out there just remember to give as much support as you can. Use that crappy Japanese translation that Google gives you. They will know the gist of what you are saying, Or just say it in English.

    Just remember it can be the smallest thing said that can help the most. Anyone can be the one that makes a difference.

  2. Rei Kuromiya is one of the most interesting idols in entertainment to me. I think one of the things that factor in to making her so interesting is this dark past that she has. It sort of goes along the lines of the controversy surrounding Brooke Shields and the photos of her modeling in a bathtub when she was a minor. I believe whenever someone has to battle personal demons it can really show in their character.

    With Rei it is quite evident in her physical being. Her face can often be very expressionless and her eyes can tell a story. I have known girls in both the entertainment industry and the adult entertainment industry and also dated an exotic dancer and the pain & hurt within them were definitely expressed through their eyes. Rei also used to post on her Twitter very dark messages often times full of anger. Curse words and knife emojis were also rampant in her tweets. Then there were the photos of cuts on her arms which were quickly deleted.

    Some would argue that it’s just her being a teenage girl who is going through that phase of hating the world or whatever, or that she is just playing in to the persona of the “bad girl”. I mean it could really be plausible but I mean if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck….

  3. It’s really sad… she’ll end suiciding herself, and we all now it… even worse i can say that many of her fans are kind of waiting for it… she has been destroyed already, there is nothing we can do. I even remember there’s a picture where you can see her arms with many scars… i love her and i would like to help her, but she doesn’t want help, that photo made me realize that she just want to be happy as much as she can… and the idol life is enhancing her bipolarity, i really wish the best for her.

  4. I don’t think she will be doing anything to herself of such drastic measure. If anything the bias and negativity towards her has made her a much stronger person. She seems to be a very strong individual. In her post she is telling everybody this. That she can see past all the drama and the hate with all the rude comments toward her from people telling her that she is “kuso” (“shit” literally). I believe this post was her telling the world that she knows the deal about her past is public but she does not regret it or will not hide it from everyone because it in fact has made her a stronger person. It’s great to see she has many fans who care for her and have nothing but the best interest for her considering there were probably many guys who were just a fan of her based on the wrong intentions.

  5. This is based on an incomplete and misleading translation of Rei’s words, used to twist Rei’s situation to the authors preferred world-view. This is the correct translation. Bracketed parts are from the translators

    “Today was my birthday. I don’t like birthdays very much or to be congratulated by so many people. Nevertheless I was happy from the bottom of my heart. To be able to have another live event like this, with everyone’s happy words, expressions, feelings, dirty stuff (cheeky crude comments probably), I fucking loved it all.

    I used to be in a genre called Junior Idol, I became like a robot and I was killing my emotions. I know that the general public are against it and the world cannot accept it.

    But I don’t want my fans to be concerned about me for that reason, or say I am unpopular because of it. I don’t care about being compared to others, and I don’t think I’m cute anyway.

    Still I do not regret my past and do not want to hide it, but it seems that everyone is arbitrarily concerned with the past of other people.

    People who can’t properly live their own lives, they see a person weaker than themselves and think “that person is worse than me”, and it makes them feel better. For that kind of person, I am shit and useless. I live my life thinking, “Honestly I want to die, really die, absolutely going to die! Will die!”. It’s a secret you know, lol.

    In this small world we call life, I’m like the shit that no-one can accept, the shit that no-one wants to accept. Nevertheless to the people who have accepted me, I fucking love each and every one of you. Add to that the recent major debut (King Records release) – it’s too amazing.

    When I write this kind of thing, there is an “idol feeling”, a sense of cleanliness. I hate that so I don’t write very often. But my emotions were on the verge of an explosion so I wrote this.

    To be honest, although I don’t want to be forgotten I am worried that I surely will be forgotten and it’s scary. To be forgotten is the same as dying.

    Anyway, I’m 16 now and more than ever, the number of people who are thinking about me and getting involved is increasing, so I’m happy. So to repay you all (for your support) I will live as best as I can. Thank you.”

    Original on instagram, user: suicide_u
    Translation checked by a Japanese person who has fluent English (a Ladybeard fan). We both have known Rei for a long time (we both were at her birthday) so we know all the context.

    “I was killing my emotions” is clearly stated as something that occurred and finished in the past. She is *not* saying her emotions are dead now.

    The part about thinking “…I want to die…” appears to be sarcastic. Because of the exaggerated 死にたい→しにて~~ and the lol(笑) at the end. Rei has lots of haters who regularly write messages saying she should die because of her junior idol work. It is the hate she has to put with that has lead to her depressive attitude. She appears to be mocking the haters by confirming she thinks she should die.

    The part about “idol feeling”: Rei does not like to conform to the behaviour of an idol, she despises the happy pure fakeness of all that. Rei is saying she doesn’t like to write this kind of message because she might appear like an idol. I suspect it is the gushing thank-yous she doesn’t like as much as anything, lol. If you ever wonder why Rei doesn’t write so much on twitter / instagram, this is the reason.

    Doing Rei a Disservice:
    The pain that Rei has to put up with is not some repressed trauma from her junior idol days. Whatever our opinion about it she has repeatedly said she does not regret that work. She tells us not to concern ourselves about it. She is still with the same management team and they support her with all her current work (BRATS, Ladybaby etc).

    Rei’s pain is the hate she gets from people who despise her because she did junior work. She has talked and written about this before. Putting Rei in some default “abused-child” box and twisting her words to confirm baseless presumptions and make some cheap copy does not help Rei with her real problems. Her real problems are crusaders causing more pain that what they are crusading against, and online bullying.

  6. Thank you friend for the follow up and complete analysis and much appreciation to your fellow contributor. I work long hours sometimes 14 – 16 per day and did not have the time to go in-depth to lengths. This was a quick post written in 5 minutes to only point out the details in her message, which in comparison to what you have written here, just about matches in relation. I felt it was a great statement by Rei-chan and wanted people to understand her so I posted this seeing as there are a significant amount of fans here in this group and online that only understand English and nobody else had offered to write about her words which would result in her important message to slide by unknowingly. As with all forms of human communication there are the possibilities to miscomprehend and misinterpret information. Never was it my implication to mislead anyone or make anybody feel hurt or offended. My apologies to anybody who felt that way.

    Which brings my attention to where you state my words were “used to twist Rei’s situation to the authors preferred world-view” and “putting Rei in some default “abused-child” box and twisting her words to confirm baseless presumptions and make some cheap copy”. This part I felt was pretentious, condescending, and seems to be more of a formulated opinion towards me forcing accusation that I was perhaps judging Rei-chan on the matters that she was defending rather than a factual unbiased statement. If anyone looks at my original text they can see that none of those accused implications are apparent which baffles me on how one can apply such assertion. Everything in the text was to an objective tone and nowhere is my own opinion or views expressed. I think everyone in this group knows that I am the biggest Rei/BRATS/LADYBABY fan and that I would not make any attempts to slander her name or “twist her words” to reflect my opinion which I support her and stand by her no matter what the general public may think of her.

    To clarify in conclusion on my part there is no intention to instigate argument nor is there any ill will directed towards anybody. Much appreciation for your effort and I am glad there are very passionate fans of Rei out there like yourself. I try to be a very substantial contributor to this group and any idol-related information networks since I have a great deal of experience and extensive knowledge in the genre although I suppose words online can often be misunderstood or misinterpreted which is never my intention to offend. Thank you.

    • I’m sorry to be so late in response here; sometimes, even fancy idol bloggers have stuff they need to do. I am glad, though, that Viz Major got to reply first, as I would have had to leave anything around the translation to him, anyway. He also said a lot that I would have on my own, also appreciated. The way I see it, there are various shades of difference in the two translations, but they do both speak to the same truth, and that’s the truth that the piece is built on: Shittiness was dealt to Rei, but now here she is as a young woman putting together a successful idol career, and on the occasion of her birthday, she chose to address her past.

      Both Viz Major and I left the social intricacies pretty much alone; frankly, the fact that people attack Rei for her being put into the position that she was says everything about them and nothing about her. But I agree, it seems like you’re reading that behavior onto the two of us, which is more mistaken than anything in a translation. Viz Major’s translation was an honest one; if flawed, he’s clearly willing to own that. For my part, saying that people should support the young woman, and that her story is ultimately a positive one — that is, the only agenda is “good for Rei” — I fail to see how any of that’s objectionable. And honestly, where does an “agenda” come into this?

      So let’s all take a chill pill and note, hey, we’re actually all pretty much in agreement about the important stuff here.

      • I wish she had never done that work, I was happy when she stopped. But Rei does not regret it, does not consider herself to have been “exploited and failed”. She has never said that and it is simply this blog’s presumption. Or should I say diagnosis? One that most of the world would share; her opinion is irrelevant because some lines cannot be blurred, eh? So her story is presented with a broken translation and glasses adjusted for the reader’s expectations. People around the web nod their heads knowingly and discuss with missing information and misinformation. The fact that Rei is acheiving fame with the help of the same adults who “exploited and failed” her, the fact she repeatedly says she doesn’t regret the work; these are awkward inconveniences, easily left out of the tale. It becomes a story about a different person, a popular fiction.

        Pretentious prose aside, I was concerned when I saw discussion stemming from Major Viz’s translation and this blog, finding more than the usual amount of misinformed speculation about someone I know well. Major Viz, who by his own admission spent 5 minutes translating this important missive from Rei, should not be surprised that those who are willing to spend a little longer before posting are not so happy with the result. Because the mistakes and ommisions gave the wrong impression, suggesting to some that Rei was admitting she was somehow trying to recover from damage caused by her junior idol work, when she was saying nothing of the sort. Since that is the message everyone wants to believe, it was an especially insidious kind of misinformation, even if accidental.

        To be fair to Major Viz, his initial translation was unbiased, if erroneous. And this blog’s upbeat closing message is great, although the fact you made no attempt to check the translation is a surprise.

        But the fact that both of you tried to draw completely unfounded “shes-a-victim” conclusions simply from the look of Rei in her selfie is almost laughable. I was with her a couple of hours before that selfie, and she was laughing and joyful for two hours at least. Presumably that was all pretense and she decided to let her real feelings express themselves in her eyes for a single shot for instagram? And you haven’t noticed that Rie Kaneko does often the same eye makeup / pose? (btw “belies” means the opposite of what you intended)

        Yes, Rei has her demons – she has talked about them, particlarly in a recent Loft PlusOne talk show. They are her haters. I have seen their twitters, vicious ojisan with a chip on their shoulder, heartless anonymous teenagers. Spewing vitriol at Rei every day. Telling she is useless and should die. That will darken your eyes and make you write daggers and more. But that story is too complex, doesn’t run as well as the simpler “sexploited” headline I suppose.

        Ah, I just read your Ladybaby article. The management did not tell Rei to stage-dive. They tried to stop her, they were angry at her every time she did it. But she had always wanted to do that. Complete presumption on your part to just decide that it was a management setup. So it’s sexual exploitation when a girl stage-dives out of joy at being a star? Ah, why do I bother…

          • LOL. It is apparent you wrote it the wrong way on purpose as some kind of strange attempt to belittle me seeing as how you wrote my name in the correct format several times many hours ago in two different groups on Facebook. You have the vocabulary of an adult yet the mentality of a child.

  7. @Homicidol Maniac

    But you aren’t in agreement about the important stuff.

    What mike says is true.

    If you go to the facebook post that VIZ made, you can see all the comments on it about how horrible Junior Idoling must have been for Rei.

    And then you wrote this blog post painting a picture that Rei has been living a misserable junior idoling life and now she is finally free.

    “The image belies real emotional damage being worked out by a young woman who’s been an object of sexploitation since she started modeling at an age in the single digits”

    You, yourself are painting her as some sort of victim.

    But she doesn’t see it that way.

    Which is why mike is saying
    “This is based on an incomplete and misleading translation of Rei’s words, used to twist Rei’s situation to the authors preferred world-view.”

    Because you are.

    Don’t you think it would be best to delete this entry from your site?

    • I think either deleting or heavily updating the article with a post reflecting such to Facebook would be a good idea. I don’t know if that will happen, though.

      Usually, Homicidol is good at updating things and admitting they might not have been right, so we’ll see.

  8. No need to worry about any of this foolishness anymore, Maniac. I have deleted the post. I don’t know what the deal with this guy is but he seems to have taken this a bit far too personal and seems to be emotionally wrecked by this nor does he appear to have the capability to understand that people form opinions by their own accord and personal perspective. To reiterate for the third time: “Everything in the text was to an objective tone and NOWHERE IS MY OWN OPINION OR VIEWS EXPRESSED.” Also, to quote the statement by Mike Returns, “the fact she repeatedly says she doesn’t regret the work; these are awkward inconveniences, easily left out of the tale.” These were my exact words (word for word): “She knows that it is not generally accepted by the public and she does not regret the past or tries to hide it though everybody is concerned about the past of others.” That right there directly contradicts your statement. And based off my words in the post or rather my “insidious misinformation” where do you gather that I was being judgmental about her work or saying that she was trying to recover from the damage caused by it? That was nowhere implied and seems to be only how you perceived it based on YOUR OWN discretion.

    You seem very intent on turning this entire thing against me, a very huge Rei-chan fan and long time supporter, and try your hardest to make it seem like I planned to initiate conversation with malicious intent. It’s making sick to the point I just want to fucking puke. You are clearly blinded by your own overzealousness and elitist mentality to see past your own presumptions that I was in no way attacking Rei-chan but in fact the opposite which I was defending her.

    Look man whatever these comments that were said that upset you so much were not by my wrongdoing but by the people who said them based off their own opinions on these aspects of the idol business. These people have a right to their opinion and you are in no higher position than them to tell them they are wrong.

    I originally intended to leave my final statement on Facebook and did not want to take it to this degree as it really is completely silly when you actually just stop to think about it. Although seeing as how you so diligently followed me here to comment and try so hard to prove your point as the “white knight” and point the finger at me as “the bad guy” I have every single right to defend myself. This whole entire charade is a big laugh to me even as I type this (arguing with faceless text on the internet) but why waste anymore of my time writing? Am I still going to post on idol websites? You bet your fucking ass I am. Am I still going to be a fan of Rei? You better fucking believe it. I made a mistake and as a man I admit my mistakes and I even stated that in the thread on Facebook but you still keep the issue going like a child. I am done with this online debate. It was fun guys. Good day to all. And Mike Returns, no animosity towards you at all, I take it you mean well and only wanted to defend Rei-chan just like I would and did, however don’t you ever speak or write my fucking name again.

      • Lol I admit that was a bit out of my character which is why I added the reply to Maniac below. Oh. And quote and remark all you want buddy. A faceless line of text on the internet does not affect my day to day life in the real world. 😉

    • My apologies Maniac, I feel I may have broken one of the site rules with the foul language and mostly with that last statement, however I can not edit my post so please feel free to edit it at your discretion. Sorry.

  9. Also Mike Returns, just to add additional defense in my part to your allegations, the way you reported my words as having harmful intent or implications on that LADYBABY Facebook Fan Club in some attempt to manipulate the people there into thinking I had malicious intent is rather greatly despicable and very uncalled for. Instead of being helpful to the situation and addressing the errors positively you let your emotions overtake you and tried to paint both me and Maniac in a negative light.

    You know as long as I have been going on the internet this is only the second time ever I have had to debate to this type of degree and never have I had someone take an honest mistake so heavy and blow it way out of proportion. LMAO! Don’t worry Mike Returns, since it may create such a great disturbance in the force I will never say anything about dear Rei-chan ever again even if it is well wishes. But I will still be a big fan and big supporter of her. This is not me throwing in the towel, no sir, but merely me letting the big kid have his lollipop he kept crying for so everybody can all be happy and the noise can finally cease. Fin.

  10. Also why should Maniac delete his own article on his own website when he is clearly stating his own opinion about this Junior Idol fiasco just to conform to some butthurt individual who seems to take an issue with something against his own opinion? Ridiculous. You guys must have totally missed or worse disregarded the entire part where he is basically speaking positive about her achievements and telling people to acknowledge her and support her at best. I deleted my post due to the fact that I was practically being attacked over something that I was basically trying to make an honest unbiased effort on and never thought it would spring about these emotions from individuals and explode to such magnitude. LOL. Maniac should not have to delete how he feels just because someone is unhappy with his opinion. That is ludicrous.

  11. wtf happened here boys? come on sort it out.

    boo hoo Viz mistranslated a little as he rush jobbed it and some people got the wrong end of the stick, its not the end of the world, mike cleared up any misunderstandings and we are all alot wiser to what she meant in the original statement she made. isnt that what we should take from this? that she is ok? that she is positive? that she is looking forward to her future career and her signing with kings records? or just that Japanese is a complete mess to decipher sometimes and were going to be unforgiving if lord forbid one of us makes a mistake trying to enthusiastically translate something for those that cant at all.

    in all honesty I highly doubt Rei gives a flying monkeys what a small bunch of gaijin think about her, so theres no point fighting about this dudes, were are already a marginal group at best, we don’t need falling outs between contributors just because a few wires got crossed and now everyone got their pantys in a bunch.

    put your pride aside gentlemen, we are all supporters of Rei here,
    regardless of how we feel about her previous work or the junior gravure topic in general.

    now can we get back to how bloody awesome the girls and the music is?


  12. It feels kind of pointless to jump in at this point so i will just say one thing: It’s okay to be a fan. It’s okay to be a hardcore fan. It’s okay to be a wota.

    But don’t be a fucking mark.

    Some people, i swear to god.

  13. Holy flucking schnitt.

    1. John: I don’t think I’ve ever deleted a post on this site, and, gods be good, I never will. There’s no accountability in deletion. I question the motivation of people who want things to be deleted.

    2. Viz Major: Swear words are fine.

    3. Viz Major and Mike: But it still has be to kept on-point, and the point is not another person in discussion. I have deleted comments before, or redacted them if they were from somebody with good cred. I’m not going to do that in this case because I want to preserve the record.

    4. Mike: You’re really, really hung up on the idea that Rei was sexually exploited, and in saying that the activity had no negative effect on her. On the latter, your own translation, re: Rei’s own emotional state at the time, contradicts this; on the former, objectively, it doesn’t matter whether Rei thinks of it negatively now, or that she feels fine, or that she’s still with the same agency (see: Ke$ha), or even if she thinks of it as sexually exploitative (see: Lil Wayne, racism). Within the specific context of what we’re talking about, Rei was indeed a victim.

    Anybody with eyes to see will call the photography what it is. Anybody who wants to argue counter, well, please stay away from here. The photography happened, the situation around it happened, the exploitation happened. Period. And, by Rei’s own admission, it messed her up. And she feels better now! Good for Rei.

    All: So the crux of the story will remain unchanged. Bad thing happened -> good end -> celebrate the person. That’s the story. I’m not going to change it. If it means that butts are hurt and people don’t come back because I’m not going to bend over backwards to accommodate a different perspective, I was over it 15 years ago. I hope, though, that you stick around and give your thoughts where appropriate.

    I am going to make one edit for clarification, to point out that Rei currently does not feel badly about her past and that her issue is hate from people who sound like they should probably be pushed off a ledge, because that’s a legitimate, accurate point.

    In adding that edit, I will be closing these comments because this conversation has gotten out of hand. They’ll be here for people to see if they want to, and it takes like half a second to figure out how to comment elsewhere or send a message if you have something else you want to say.

    Mister Mister: Yeah.

    And thanks for making me miss the end of Tsurezure’s release window. That’s awesome.

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