NEO JAPONISM hits American shores later this week to kick off TOUSHINRANBU, their very first US tour. It is an ambitious first venture to the States, with eleven shows in cities up-and-down both coasts including a stop at the iconic Viper Room and a tour final in Las Vegas.
When we were compiling entries for our recent article on the best works of the year so far, one of the songs that just barely missed the cut was, “Midnight Front” by Saihate no Hairaito. The logic behind the exclusion was that, as good as the tune was, at the time we were compiling the piece the group had only released the one song. We didn’t know much more about the group. Heck, technically, the unit had not even debuted yet.
That’s our defense anyway. I’m hoping it holds up in court as, after holding a debut live and dropping three more singles, we now appear to criminally negligent for not officially recognizing what we knew in our hearts to be true over a month ago: Saihate no Hairaito are one of the most compelling new units of 2023.
Here’s this week’s dose of wholesome.
Some of you who pay attention to our weekenders might recognize this pair from the few times that Kitto Dareka no Himitsu Heiki (also known as “Someone’s Secret Weapon” and just “Kitokano”) got brought up last year. A group with a lot of potential, they dropped some actually very impressive digital singles in 2022 only to tragically dissolve at the end of the year (and then temporarily reformed once or twice in 2023, confusing myself and Papermaiden, the other Kitokano fan in the Homicidols team).
Thankfully, exactly one half of the group, Ayanaru and Futatabi Ao, said “screw the disbandment” and decided to do their own thing with the help of some of Kitokano’s ex-contributors, so I guess alls well that ends well!
It is not often that a MV comes along that causes the alternative idol fandom to issue a collective, “What the F…?” This is a genre whose foundational keystones include iconic moments of visual shock such as BiS running naked through Aokigahara, Guso Drop being splattered in blood and other bodily fluids, and the graphic introduction of Brand new Idol SHiT. It takes a lot to get the crowd that’s been further desensitized by the X-rated shenanigans of PLANCK STARS to do a double take, so when an upstart new unit makes this jaded audience go, “This is unhinged!”, we need to take a closer look.
The unit is questions is DEMO who just released this MV for their debut single, “Rice Music.”
On a recent winter evening in Japan, an over-reliance on Google Maps had Papermaiden and I well and truly lost in Shibuya. We were attempting to locate the address of a legendary dance studio that currently serves as the rehearsal space for NEO JAPONISM, APOKALIPPPS and other prominent chika idol units. Google insisted that the sought-after place was housed in a building among the side streets off Dogenzaka, but after fruitlessly circling through several alleyways, Papermaiden took over navigation. Soon after, Papermaiden’s efforts in orienteering led us to a single bright, square sign on a towering storefront among the thousands of others lighting the surrounding buildings and marking the target of our search.
Here, on the sidewalks of Shibuya, we met Hiroshi, the manger of the new chika idol unit, Chemical X. Papermaiden and I had been fortunate enough to be invited to attend the group’s rehearsal as the members prepared for their January 20th debut. It was a chilly evening, so the introductions were brisk: we quickly met Yossy, the group’s creator and producer, and members Amemiya R Galaxy, Chiimayu, Aoi Hitotsuki and Maho Setsuna. KILLERMACHINE, we were told, was running a bit late as she was coming from another commitment. After brief greetings, we hurried inside and upstairs to the warmth of the studio.
The influence of Japanese-style alternative idol has, undeniably, been spreading further and further across the globe. Over the past couple of yeas, Homicidols has covered overseas idol units from Italy, South Korea, Thailand, Australia and, most recently, the Philippines, all of whom directly channel the style and spirit (and, sometimes, language) of our favorite underground and indie idols in Japan. This activity has become so widespread that Team Homicidols has encountered trouble covering it all. It is why we recently brought FarFromSleep on board specifically to focus on activity in South Korea. It is also why, when Halien reached out to us and offered to put together an overview of the idol scene in Vietnam, our response was an enthusiastic, “Yes, please!”
Welcome to our latest collection of notable idol units that have recently sprung into existence or otherwise just entered our consciousness. The number of new groups being launched in 2022 continues to be pretty nuts. I have a feeling that the New Unit category of our Best of the Year awards will be a blood bath, but in a good way (not that there is any way for a blood bath to be good, but it’s a hot Sunday afternoon as I write this and I’m feeling too lazy to pick a new metaphor).
As I was wrapping this piece up I realized that almost all of the units we’ve included this round hail from Kansai. This was completely inadvertent, but serves as an auspicious reminder that, while Tokyo is the capital of the idol world, it isn’t the only source of exemplary alternative idol. Kansai, the home of PassCode, DADAIDAI, Especia, WAGAMAMA RAKIA and countless others, continues to inspire some of the best in the genre, such as:
Yeah my mum was always insisting I eat fruit and stuff, what are parents like?!
There’s two of them. They are Yunipi (pink) and Zousui (purple). They’re from Aomori prefecture, right up on the northern tip of Japan’s main island. And that, readers, is all I know. Not much to fill an article with but – hah! – they are called HUSH HUSH after all!
We have mentioned before how 2022 has seen an explosion of new indie and underground idol units with many showing signs of exceptional promise. That trend has continued over the past month, so we have again collected several of the new groups we’ll be watching most closely here.
We also have to commend these new idol units for coming up with much better names this year. It got so bad last year that we felt compelled to create a Questionable Name category for the 2021 year-end awards (won in a landslide by Anal Sex Penis, of course; STAiNY and C.LiTZ really dodged a bullet there). Other than a couple of notable exceptions (I’m looking at you, Makenai Bokura wa, Ame no Furu Sekai de Neko to Odoru.), new unit names have been much improved in 2022. Case in point:
THE DEVIL’S KILLING MERRY-GO-ROUND
Unveiled just this past weekend, the announcement of this new unit surprised us all with a couple of very familiar faces.
At Homicidols, we try not to post about a unit before they release anything. After all, how many groups have looked extremely promising and yet disbanded with nary even a CD-R in sight? But this upcoming group has so much backing we had to mention it.
Created as the official rival group to Anthurium, King Sari, despite what its name suggests has nothing to do with ex-Necronomidol members nor a very talented soloist currently active. However, while they had their member preview which did include a (now former) Anthurium member, our excitement lies especially in the presence of this young lady: