Things Worth Knowing about the Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da Situation

If you were paying attention while it felt like reality was in the act of being torn apart the other night (that is, in the immediate aftermath of the suspension announcement about Gomochi and Aza), a helpful friend from inside Japan was offering corrected information over Twitter, and he agreed to a virtual conversation to go over some details.

Our source is anonymous and asked to remain so; he described himself as being part of the fan community and somewhat close to some of the people involved, and it wouldn’t do anybody any good for additional folks to get caught up in the furor, so. You can take it with a grain of salt if you like. Based on a few comments and observations that a person would have to be fairly in the know to, uh, know, I feel that there’s veracity to this and so am passing on the info to you all.

Strap in.

Before delving into the meat, I want to point out that I had a little commentary outlined prior to my conversation with our friend; I knew that I didn’t know everything (still don’t!), but I did feel pretty strongly about a particular point, and I’m still going to be making that point, but very differently, and I’d like your reactions.

One of my points of confirmation is what I’ll call the Megumi Factor; as some people are aware, she isn’t just in a leadership role for the group, she’s part of the Codomomental management team, and our friend laid that out in more detail — Codomomental the company started off in video production before getting into idol and other music (and there’s the answer to “why is the art always so great?”); Megumi’s background is in acting, and yes she’s a manager of Zenkimi, but there are other people involved, too.

But it’s a small company, in the sense that Megumi is also involved in managing Yukueshirezutsurezure without being the manager, if that makes sense. And no, there isn’t going to be blowback against Tsurezure unless more damning information emerges (also, cancel the fantasy booking of Shidare into Zenkimi — not going to happen).

Regardless, that puts Megumi into an interesting position, I think.

As far as the fans go, the ones in the photos are somewhat notorious in the fan community for being … possessive? jealous? too cool for school? I guess you could take it in several different directions. But their behavior at shows, acting as if the members basically belong to them and being at best a nuisance to others, that’s well-known in the community, and not appreciated. Now that they’re being banned, they will not be missed.

This drama has been discussed on the fan boards for a few weeks prior to the announcement; the photos were first posted on Oct. 28, anonymously, but tagged with people’s names — whoever did it had a reason, and they knew what they were doing by tagging people. Given the nature of everything, there may, in fact, be more photos (I’d guess: There probably are, and we may not yet know the extent of the impact). I suggested, maybe a love triangle gone wrong? And the answer was that it could be anything. They were fairly obviously taken during the summertime, so whoever did it sat on the information for a while or had a motivating factor come into play.

Two additional images that were shared; click to embiggen

The fans were giving out lots of gifts, yes, and it’s true that the members may not be paid in a wage/salary way, but there are a lot of ways to compensate idols — room and board, travel, lessons, education — in addition to chekis, and that’s typical to the industry, and everybody involved knows how the game is played. But it’s not the gifts that are the problem.

Probably the biggest thing to come out of this is that Zenkimi members hanging out with fans has been known by management for a while, and even condoned. The problem is that it got public.

Like, the infamous no-dating contract clauses and various other restrictions on behavior, those things are real, but they’re also more of poison pills than an actual big deal for idols and managers alike. Idols date; it’s sometimes well-known who they’re out with. What matters to management is that such information be kept quiet, low-key, out of sight. If idols do happen to be implicated in non-contractual behavior, it’s ultimately a question of whether it makes the company look the fool. You usually don’t get to get away with embarrassing your employer anywhere, and you definitely don’t in Japan.

In this case, the timing of it all is interesting. The show on Wednesday was sort of suddenly, randomly announced; the auditions that came out of nowhere, that was surprising to the fan community, too. Is it all connected? What did management know when? What are their intentions?

We’ll know for sure on Wednesday. Our friend was quite clear that the wording of the suspension announcement, in which it said that Aza and Gomochi would “say in their own words” what was going to happen, that was a red flag, so bet on them stepping down. Their appearance is about public shame and Japanese notions of accountability; they’ll express their regrets and say their goodbyes, and that’s not exclusive to idol, nor is it out of the ordinary.

At the same time, our friend said that the auditions were fairly well-attended (that is, aspiring idols are interested in Zenkimi), so any new members are almost certainly going to come out of that process.

So what was that commentary?

I felt pretty strongly the other day and definitely still feel now that this is a really interesting case. Our flavor of idols, with the heavier music and darker themes, are often psychologically placed into opposition with more traditional idol stuff. That a situation that’s ultimately tamer than a dating scandal (but, understandably, more damaging to the bottom line, if certain fans are getting additional benefits) could blow up and force members out, it feels really alien. It feels too idol.

The easy response is that it’s all idol, so notions that such-and-such would be different because don’t wash. Maybe BiS could get away with changing the rules (if they ever did, who knows), but the industry and culture are such that the whole idea of an idol is monetized, and challenges to the revenue are going to be a problem. Bosses don’t like problems.

But it’s also true that the culture has changed and is changing. Our friend pointed out that this is a younger scene that you’ll usually find at idol events, and much has been made at the number of women who attend alt- and anti-idol shows. Codomomental is new to the scene and in a way hasn’t known it being any other way; one could say that their entire experience in idol is itself a different kind of idol, a modern and revolutionary idol.

That’s how I look at it. I can be guilty of giving a little too much benefit of the doubt to managers — they allegedly know what they’re doing, and I’m going to take it for granted that what we see publicly is intentional, the result of plans and projections and the like, like a business. Like, I think they’re smart people.

So I think that Codomomental, at least the executive team, are smart people, and they’re aware of what things look like, and they have business objectives that are unknown to us, but we do know that they’re creative and adventurous. They know how people have reacted to this situation, and they’re aware of broader cultural forces that surround their work.

I’m not going to make a prediction (and if I did, it’d be to trust our friend and say “Get used to three-member Zenkimi!”), but I am going to offer a thought:

This is Codomomental’s chance to show that it really is a different world now, and Gomochi and Aza should be allowed to remain in the group. Prove the point that idol is different now. Be a leader in cultural change. Become notorious.

I realize that it isn’t likely, but I want it to happen. It isn’t even about the members — I like Gomochi a whole lot, and Aza’s cool — or about the particular behavior, but about the point, culturally, and about a group that I really like taking an opportunity to say that change is in the act of happening and they want to be an agent of that change.

18 thoughts on “Things Worth Knowing about the Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da Situation

  1. Thanks for the oversight. And thanks to your contact. Regarding what you wrote i deem it also most plausible facts.

    Regarding your conclusion and your will, i’m split. While i do would love the members, particularly in alt-idol case to be allowed more free will (this include going out with who the fuck they want, i care only about what they give to fans during work time) This particular case is, regarding the fact mentionned though to handle to let them go freeby. The fans they were spending time with seems to be known suckers and public nuisance to the rest of customers, they also seemingly got “bribed” and thus creating a rift with the other members…
    That’s also what we have to take into account, the decision and will of other members ( managing member even moreso in this case)

  2. Thank you for the perspective and interview, this offers better insight. While I agree with your point Maniac, the new details regarding the fans behaviour does make it a lot harder to go around this situation without them stepping down, as it seemed disruptive to the enjoyment of events by other fans (Not just out of jealousy, but because the banned fans might have created that environment).

    I thought the lineup of Zenkimi was extremely well balanced and it breaks my heart to lose that. However, for me at least, the circumstances make it easier to accept if the girls decide to step down.

    I’d be really interested to know more about Megumi’s position/the translation of everyone’s apology tweets, though.

    Whatever happens, I wish them the best!

  3. Honestly, if they’d just been caught dating I think the response of “maybe change some rules for these types of idols” would be warranted but that’s not what happened here.
    I believe the kind of fan “dating” interaction happening here is much worse than breaking the love-ban rule. Even Kamen Joshi who allow their idols to date have a rule against dating fans. It’s a conflict of interest and it should definitely be rejected by management and other fans. As you stated, the fans involved were acting up in a way that disrupted other fans.

  4. This is a very disheartening & disappointing situation. I wish for the best outcome but the hard truth is they broke one of the “golden rules” of Idol, a rule that has pretty much been carved in stone since the beginning. Like I always say in incidents like this, they knew what they were signing up for, they knew the rules. The thing about this business is these executives and management are regarded as irreplaceable (especially if they do their job right) and sadly the girls/idols are looked at as expendables. If your name is not Pour Lui or even Minami Takahashi then consider yourself on thin ice and one strike you’re out.

    It is true that idols date under the radar (they can’t be watched 24/7) but once that word gets out then that destroys everything these wotas felt for them. It’s like that bond of trust had been broken. It sounds ridiculous but believe this is the wota mentality. I was involved with a girl who was just starting in the industry (will never reveal her identity, sorry) and she forced herself to break it off only after a few weeks because of the pressure of being caught. It makes you feel bad for these girls, but remember, they read the terms & conditions and they ultimately agreed to it.

    What makes this difficult for Codomomental is if they don’t take the appropriate action then this makes them look really bad & shady as a legitimate business and will reflect on the others not involved with it (the other ZenKimi girls, Tsurezure, Milcboy, Gauche) and can possibly affect support & success for all.

    As for idols not being paid, this is nothing new. Some are on salary but then some are considered as being “paid” in other ways such as singing lessons, dancing lessons, exposure to other facets of the entertainment industry, etc. These fans involved in this though are a huge part of this problem. When it gets to the point of where you become possessive like that then that will cause a big disturbance in the entire fanbase. Maybe these guys should actually consider trying to get a real life girlfriend and leave the idols in the 2.5D world where they belong.

  5. Shit, I don’t know which makes me more uncomfortable for them. I guess this could be read more than a few ways.

    Having cocky Bro- Wotas as “pals” and maybe not realizing they are f’ing up your potential career.

    Having an employer who may not have your back, and who may actively throw you under the bus, so to speak, at any sign trouble. (Old GuardStatus Quo)

    having some two-faced “fans” who will never miss the opportunity to be offended by you for not behaving like the simple character they see you as in their imaginations . (probably happens more than we know)

    Maybe CodomoManagement will just have them jump into a wading pool full of ketchup or something to “atone”, and make this a mildly-degrading, partly-daffy PR thing where people forget what the initial fuss was about. (wouldn’t be shocked by this)

    They say F* it and drop the contract clauses altogether, and start standing up for the talent, without exception. (risky, but the best possible decision)

    I know some Indy units don’t fuss with the Idols personal lives whatsoever, Maybe it’s time a Management Group did the same across the board?

  6. Shit like this is why i have never really gotten into idols other than the music and live performances…
    Trying to sell this idealized fantasy to fans and wota getting all possessive and controlling and due to the business model actually having means to negatively affect groups and even individual idols at any slight, real or perceived.

    It just feels wrong to me.

    And it’s been creeping more and more into the band scene too, unfortunately…

    I wrote this in the Phase II thread and i think it applies here too:

    ““Alternative” idol groups are more interested in being “alternative” idols and not interested enough in being an alternative TO idols.
    It’s mostly the same shit just ran through “edgy” filter and some distorted guitars thrown on top.”

  7. My 2 cents:
    All the people crying on « but I thought they were anti idol/ blame the over possessive wotas” seems to be totally ignorant/negligent on an simple fact. It’s these persons that you describe at “overpossesive/crazy/whatever” that make almost all the group discussed here viable.

    I’m telling that they don’t allow their oshi to have a private life, but I’m asking you to take in account a simple fact: the level of involvement asked to the fans. Because yes, the guys that allows most of the “small” groups discussed here to survive on the long run are the one that will come to almost all of the gigs, throw a small fortune on cheki, and are going all out multiple times per week.

    If you don’t take this fact into account, you’re missing a big difference between the “idols” model and a “normal” girls band. That’s also why in my sense, by using the dedication and the involvement of a small group of fans, popularity of an idol group may explode quickly and make them able to rent pretty big venue a few months after their debuts. These “crazy” wotas (by opposition to the one that will just by one (and not a complete bag of) single, and go to a few (by the opposition of all the) gigs are the one that provide a large part of the financial support to the group and permit them to start to aim for the top with their back secured. Also, not taking into account that the effort they deploy during the concerts is also a pretty efficient way to attract new fans.

    That’s this craziness, irrationality, and if you want, fantasy, that is in my sense the cornerstone of the idol culture.

    And that’s why trying to “change” it by placating some abstract moral values will probably never work I think. You can’t have people dedicating all their free time to a group with this sort of attitude. For their involvement (both emotional and financial), these guys deserve respect, both from the members and from the management. Come on, we’re even not in a case where some stalker/medias are digging up some “secret” about an idol private life, but in case were the management was almost openly mocking all the fans that were not part of the “cool guys group”. Don’t know how I may have reacted myself if I was member of the zenkimi core fanbase, but it seems a pretty good reason to have some guys quitting the community.

    • This is exactly why terms like “alternative” and “anti” idol ring hollow, they are just the same old “Idol” formula applied to a slightly different demographic.

      • Different demographic is it ? i’d be curious to how much different demographics it really is actually…
        But onto the point, if you know of a better way to earn income for middle/high/university schoolers with low attendance and low sales, please share it with us.
        I do know also some regular bands who’d love to have your insights also.

        • –“Different demographic is it ? i’d be curious to how much different demographics it really is actually…”

          I put “slightly” in there for a reason, it is actually the point of what i am trying to say:

          For as much talk as there has been of idol groups moving beyond the realm of “idol music” and “Idol fans” into “real music” and “music fan” or “rock/metal fan” territory very few have actually managed to do that and most don’t seem to even make an effort.

          • Back to square one, how do you fund the “real music/fan” realm.
            I also am personally not at all fond of the way things works regarding idol business, but money is and has always been the heart of the problem.
            Whatever artistic/musical creativity there is regarding alt-idols group, most of them are dealing with idols, which means no singing/dancing ability in general.
            How do you figure to sell it as a regular band ?

            (Funny discussion btw because i do happen to know personally a few japanese metal musicians who are actually complaining idols gets all the spotlight…)

      • They are alternative in the music style and anti in approach but ultimately it the exact same concept behind it all. I’m fairly sure that people know that already.

  8. Agree on the issue, that all idol groups are basically following the same guidelines, just that the style of music and presentation differs slightly. Still the quality in production, song-writing and creativity can differ enormously, though that is disregardless to the genre.
    And also agree on (obsessive ) wotas being the foundation of it all, needing to uphold the illusion of the “availibilty” of that idol they favour.

    My personal opinion is not caring at all, if my favourite idol is dating someone or not. I only expect her to show a good performance and behave accordingly in the handshake events etc. What she does in her private life is her thing alone. One of my favourite idols was even rumoured on 2ch about dating, a friend of mine even offered his condolences to me. My only reaction was: I hope it is true. I would be happy for her.

    Nevertheless, suspending a girl for breaking the rules is definitely the right decision, as this is part of their job ethics. And I wouldn’t have it changed if this means the end of the idol business as we know it.
    But in the case of Zenkimi I still find the behaviour of the girls just dumb. Meeting in their private time with fans is a no-go. That some fans are better treated by the idol or even the staff themselves I always regarded as a given fact though. Why shouldn’t a very devoted supporter (positiv) not get some special treatment, in a certain amount of course? Hell, one of my favourite idols sat down next to hardcore fan even in a quiet moment before the handshake event started, talking to him and even cuddled his hair. No one around them bothered. But here it was during “working hours”.
    Still on a personal level I don’t get the fuss about it and honestly hold very little respect for a way of thinking, that you demand a girl to be just there for the fans. How can these people then accept other fans of their favoirite idol? They should then hate those as well, shouldn’t they?

  9. Reply does not work in that thread so my reply to Kurolivier goes here:

    I say that even with how much the Idol formula helps to create a security money-wise, it can also be a crutch and even, dare i say, a hindrance.

    For example:
    Would better singers and dancers attend auditions if they thought they would get to actually use their talents instead of singing and dancing lowest common denominator stuff?
    If they didn’t have to pander to sell chekis and whatnot?
    If they thought they would have some security and would not just be thrown away at the whim of the fans and/or the producers?

    Would it be easier to get more sales and attendance(to “sell it as a regular band”) if people were not turned off by the pandering?
    If the artistic/musical creativity was felt as coming from a real place and did not just feel like an excuse to charge for handshakes and selfies?
    If, to put it bluntly, the music was better and not just generic idol music that wotas can do their woops and chants over?

    I think so.

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply, i’m happy to discuss things and thoughts even if i can seem rough because i don’t like much writing so i tend to cut through essential stuff that matters.

      Eggs or chicken first eh ?
      Good singers and good dancers regularly attend more known idols audition, otherwise their put their talent at work in places requesting them, or keeps to themselves for financial security.

      It actually happens to be the reason why BiS was formed, because Idoling do actually sell more than regular music if you remember.
      That’s also why i did mention the anger some real “underground” metal artists feel against successful idols acts.
      And musical creativity can only be sustained when you can fund it (Shoujo kakka international case)

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