You didn’t think we were going to let 2020 slip away without giving ourselves a chance to go off about our own personal Best Ofs, did you? No, friend, this annual ordeal may have begun with my commenting on community picks, but nowadays we have ourselves a proper Team post on top of the community. I like it this way — it really does highlight the difference between absolute individual preferences vs. community aggregate, maybe gives you all some leads to check out, and it gives us a chance to promote our favorites more!
Letdown of the Year
Daemon: The COVID-related travel bans hit idols and foreign wota hard and where it hurts. So many units had to cancel their trips to perform for oversees fans. Personally, I had a trip booked to see Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s major label debut, spring Gyuno Fest AND Hanako-san’s album release live. I would have been in Tokyo for the freak snow storm while the cherry blossoms were in full bloom. F you COVID. F you right in the ear.
Kerrie: Coronavirus as a whole would be too broad, so I’m going to focus on one specific story of one such tale to come out of the virus; It’s 2017. I’m following the WACK Audition Camp and find myself drawn to a number of girls, none of whom make it. Jump forward the next year, I discover one such girl has moved on to join a new group of her own, performing simply as, “Asaka”. I’m ecstatic. I buy and half-assedly review that group’s debut EP. A few months later, she graduates, and I’m sad. But wait! At the very end of 2019, she announces that she’s ready to jump back into this whole idol thing, and will be forming her own group in the coming months. I’m ecstatic again! I wait patiently throughout 2020, thinking to myself “eh, COVID probably delayed things but I’m sure we’ll see Asaka back on stage soon”. Cue August. Asaka tweets that she has an announcement about the group tomorrow. This is it! This is it, fellas! Oh. Oh. Cue clown music. Looks like, despite having a lineup and even a debut song ready, the group isn’t happening after all because Covid kept getting in the damn way of things. Not only that, but Asaka has decided that it’s now too late for her and she’s retiring from idol entirely! That’s right, the plague stopped one of my most anticipated comebacks right in its tracks! I was bitter for weeks about that one.
Chris: Corona (obvs), mostly in my case because I was prevented from seeing You’ll Melt More! in Bologna and KOTO in London.
Papermaiden: So, as you know unless you’ve been in a coma and just awoke, and the first thing you did was check out Homicidols dot com, there’s a pandemic going on wrecking lungs, lives, and causing frontier closures. More often than not, this just added more chaos into an already unstable life situation. Before the whole thing got set ablaze in North America, Mr. Paper suggested I get a “Emotional Support idol”, which I neglected to do. The joke would be on him though, because pretty much all my favourites graduated or announced their graduation this year. So… Emotional Support Void it is, I guess!
Daemon: When one looks for funny idol moments, few will turn to my soon-to-be-retiring kami-oshi, Komachi of Yukueshirezutsurezure. Still, no moment made me laugh harder this year that when Komachi single-handedly dragged the members of KAQRIYOTERROR and seireki13ya out the door and down the hall during the Codomomental School Games tug-of-war.
Cal: The entire WACK AUDiTiON CAMP this year was surprisingly hilarious instead of depressing as hell like last time. The choice moments for me were Yui Ga Dockson saying “if you want to imagine what Kira May looks like naked, just think about her head on top of Eva Unit 01” and the death sauce antics resulting in the girls coming up with AFF (Anal Fire Festival) which i’ve introduced into my daily lexicon. Also contestant Sex Summer Uika responding to a comment asking her cup size with “world cup”. Oh, and Toggy drinking a cup of salad dressing. It wasn’t funny so much as deeply confusing but I think about it a lot.
Chris: Tenka Banamon’s shitposting cheered us up while most of us were in lockdown.
Brian: The-Idol-Underworld-Everything-Must-Go-Sale amused me quite a bit. Certainly I can see the window of demand for selling props that appeared in a photo shoot, but it’s a humorous snapshot of the idol industry to see what everyday items can be seen as pop-culture commerce items. What’s next? An empty Strong-zero can? A register receipt from Lawson? The soggy sham-wow cloth from washing a car? Is any of this really that more odd than an instant photo? If you sell it, they will come!
Surprise of the Year
Daemon: I honestly did not believe that we would ever see Yamakomaro again, so I was delighted when she re-emerged as a soloist with Codomomental. Even better was when she reunited with Kotetsu for a KTA shuffle unit during WANDERLUST.
— ヤマコマロ (@_ymkmr) May 5, 2020
Maniac: This is dopey commentary, but the big surprise for me was how vital and creative idol proved to be yet again, despite everything being arrayed against it. A business model that requires direct interaction suddenly having no direct interaction? Make up new approaches on the fly!
Cal: I’m impressed that First Summer Uika managed to hide a whole husband for half a decade. When i was 15 my mother found out I had a boyfriend within a day but also the Japanese tabloids aren’t as smart as my mother.
Kerrie: I thought Namakopuri had died years ago, and then they got revived by 2020’s most poorly-recieved video game of all things! Cyberpunk 2077 may have been a massive letdown, but PonPon Shit sure as hell ain’t!
Chris: Mariko Goto being announced as a new member of You’ll Melt More! floored me, as an admirer of both acts. Sadly it was only for a day, but she was to make way for something even more special.
Papermaiden: Hard to choose just one, but KAQRIYOTERROR‘s live introduction to the world via streaming (a big change for a group that had 0 live releases, DVD or streamed) as well as seeing Nayuta Aku reunited with Usakura Beni as Frun Frin Friends, making music together again, just like when they were both founding members of Avandoned!
Daemon: The too-soon dissolution of Scribble Scritch follow by the subsequent disbandment of their reboot, Scramble Scratch was a one-two punch I could have done without.
Cal: GANG PARADE for sure. They were incredibly unique and their sheer chaos is just something you can’t replicate. I love GO TO THE BEDS and PARADISES too, but there’ll always be a place for Kamiya Saki’s bald head in my heart.
Brian: I don’t think I feel “sad” about graduations and disbandments anymore because I’ve become pretty accepting that with idol, it’s the circle of life, but I do absolutely miss things that I loved when they come to an end. The most obvious answer from me of course is avandoned. They’ll always be chika all-stars for me, and like seedlings from a dandelion, the various members have drifted out into new wonderful things. I’ll never “avandon” their memory!
Papermaiden: Pediophobia‘s untimely demise really hit me because it was so unexpected. I was just about to re-explore their one and only release when I saw the disbandment announcement. HAMIDASYSTEM‘s disbandment might have been sad, but since it led to two excellent successor groups, so there is nothing to be sad about for me on that front.
Chris: The collapse of Shindentsu Production killed off a few great groups but I was saddest about Electric Hearts, especially as they never released any of their killer tunes outside of venue-only CDs.
Kerrie: The devastating NECRONOMIDOL fallout felt like the idol equivalent of my parents getting divorced.
Brian: The two big-ones for me are both legends: Younapi and Kai. But given that Younapi is still going to remain a welcome presence in the music world as a soloist, while Kai appears to be very much retired completely, I’m going to silently tear-up over the latter’s absence from the idol world.
Chris: You’ll Melt More! may have gained two great new members but they lost possibly their most prominent member in Younapi although, in a rare benefit of the pandemic (from our point of view), her graduation was delayed for several months, allowing her to appear in the wonderfully strange MVs the group put out his year.
Papermaiden: I’m a broken record, so it’s no surprise that each of the Zenkimi departures, Yotsu, Nagi Akebono and ultimately Mashiro would on their own be the equivalent of a stab in the gut, but the combination of them just left me looking like a surprised pikachu who hasn’t closed its mouth for months because the surprise and sadness hasn’t dissipated yet.
Daemon: Kai. Kai. Kai. Kai. Kai.
Maniac: I watched some of Kanamil’s random stream the other day and got quite sad that August-chan really is gone.
Debut of the Year (Group)
Daemon: There was no shortage of new groups this year with tons of promise (MANACLE, NELN, INUWASI, RILISREVERSE), but the one I have gotten the most irrationally excited about is the duo formed by the best vocalists from Dan te Lion and Chu Kiss RIP (two of the hardest working units in chika idol). KANARIA don’t have a lot of material yet, but I like everything I’ve seen and heard so far.
Maniac: Off-topic, my favorite debut by far is Ringwanderung, who in many ways are like a perfect collision of Hauptharmonie (RIP) and Philosophy no Dance, and that’s just aces. More on-topic, obviously INUWASI crushed it, and I give an honorable mention to GREAT MONKEYS because they did, in fact, debut for like a whole few weeks. Somebody also needs to mention Erisu, so there, I mentioned Erisu.
Brian: While I never wrote about them on the blog, or even mention them very often of twitter, I think that Sway Emotions Slightly are fabulous examples of idols delivering exceptionally high-quality music that deserves to be appreciated by a larger audience.
Papermaiden: We got some excellent newbie units with screams this year. My mind goes specifically to Gekizyou Refrain (Thanks for the recommendation, ToxicBreakfast!) and Hikikomori Teikoku. I would really recommend checking these diamonds in the rough out!
Chris: PIGGS. Of course Pour Lui is a legend — out of respect we must nod and smile politely at whatever she is doing now — but I had long viewed her “legendary” days as being behind her. PIGGS brought the glam-punk stomp right down on top of my unworthy head for such insolence, and I am ever so grateful.
Cal: Absolutely RILISREVERSE for me! Shiika is my favourite idol ever and second generation Hamidasystem were my favourite group so their breakup came as a swift knife in the chest. Of course, all idol groups that don’t go major are fated to disband and with a group as focused on melancholic emotions as Hamidasystem, it felt almost fitting in a way. But their successor group (sorry to Crossnoesis fans) having the theme of “emotions unleashed upon the livehouse floor” and covering positive, exciting emotions felt like a real phoenix from the ashes moment. Sometimes something has to die for something to be born!
Debut of the Year (Soloists and Members)
Chris: Nani (a)n(d) Nerun, You’ll Melt More!’s first new members for over six years (notwithstanding Ms. Goto’s few hours in the group) have been more enjoyable than we can have hoped, mainly for their activities in their own sub-unit, including three ridiculously catchy singles and the world’s shortest ever idol album.
Daemon: My vote goes to Tsukasa Rin, the new, English-speaking member of Yanakoto Sotto Mute. Her outreach to overseas fans has been refreshing as is her partnership with fellow English-speaker, risano from lyrical school. Their Insta livestreams have provided us with some of the first-ever moments of two Japanese idols candidly commiserating about idol life in fluent English.
Kerrie: Kannagi Maro, the legend herself, migrating from Hello! Project to ZOC, of all things. I loved her as a trad-idol and I love her as an alt-idol.
Brian: Nani and Nerun for YOU’LL MELT MORE! Whether with the group or as a the duo Nani’n’Nerun?, they’re a blast and won me over rapidly! And hey, allow me to also mention the solo debut of Suzuki Kokone of SAKA-SAMA, because she’s terrific!
Daemon: On the strength of its back catalog, international fan base and the blessings of the Old Ones themselves, NECROMA can’t be killed.
Brian: I bet that tipToe. reboot is good and I’m lame for not checking it out more in-depth. I need to rectify that.
Maniac: I’m sorry, did you all miss that post about BOY MEETS HARU?
Most Expected to Break Through in 2021
Daemon: There is one group that we are way behind the curve on here at Homicidols dot com. They have been slowly building momentum and a loyal Western fan base for a while and really upped their game in 2020 in terms of music quality and a stellar live presence. The sleeper unit that I think is poised to break out all over the place in 2021 is, ZOMBIE POWDER.
Maniac: I don’t know about “most expected” in this case and what all that implies, but we’re watching WAGAMAMARAKIA breaking through, right now, in real time, and it’s awesome. So maybe not them, but I do get in a mention (yes!). Naw, give this to INUWASI, who have a great mix of sound and quality and support around them to fully lift off in the new year.
Cal: Now that Atarashi Gakkou no Leaders are on a major American label under the name ATARASHII GAKKO! I feel like their success is inevitable. I’m the youngest member of the team and basically the youngest age where I can call myself as a millennial, so that led to me exclaiming that they’re on the same label as Joji which then turned into explaining to everyone else who Joji is and why i’m terrified of Filthy Frank. On a related note we need to prevent those girls from learning about Filthy Frank at all costs.
Brian: On a bigger, still-a-niche-but-somewhat-more-commercial level, ATARASHII GAKKO! have a real shot at going over very well with a wide variety of fans outside of the expected circles. They deserve it and hope it happens for them. And on a smaller chika-level, I’ve positively thrilled to recently notice that SAKA-SAMA are evolving into the potential sleeper-favorite status they’ve always deserved, with TRASH-UP!! even going so far as to offer their fantastic new album on bandcamp. I feel like the current duo have really hit their stride and I hope they run with the ball!
Chris: Last year I tipped Carry Loose for success in 2020, which…yeah…anyway, in that spirit, I’ve decided to use my powers for evil and I confidently predict global stardom and acclaim for the mighty Baby♡♡Holic.
Friends of Homicidols
Maniac: The eternal awardee, Oomori Seiko, though ZOC remains a confounding project.
Daemon: In 2020, Western chika idol fans have had no better friend that Tribu. He is the producer for KING BROTHERS, Qppo and, most importantly, the Tribu pre. livestream series serving up taibans featuring many of our favorite units via Twitcasting for all of these months of social isolation. Bless you Tribu!!
Cal: I love pop music just as much as alt rock so once again i’m here to preach the Peri Ubu gospel! She has all of the things about eurodance style jpop production I like best and her lyrics range from the esoteric to the everyday and I don’t know anybody else singing about Buddhism and reincarnation just as much as makeup. Quite literally she’s my ultimate pop star.
Kerrie: We all know how much I adored Sari back in her Necroma days, and her post-Necroma career is not to be ignored either. Her newest EP is beautiful from start to finish, and its release made for a somber yet satisfying end to the year.
Chris: YMM collab aside, Mariko Goto dropped an absolute boss of a furious electronica album last December and recently a more chilled album of “acoustic violence pop”.
Brian: I’m still pushing RYUTist on anybody who’s up for going a little further outside of the Homicidols envelope. If you’ve listened, you know. They’re becoming less of a sleeper every moment! And closer to the Homicidols niche, I gotta go with the mighty motherfn’ Boris. I love that one of the heaviest bands ever has no fear of idol associations and warmly embraces the pop goodness.
Collaboration of the Year
Cal: Matsukuma Kenta and Hyadain coming together for GANG PARADE‘s Namida no Stage was a bittersweet goodbye to the group, but good lord is that song catchy.
Kerrie: The entire O’CHAWANZ Collab album. In my view, any O’CHAWANZ release is probably a candidate for record of the year, but when you throw in the likes of 3776, Seno Sister, SAKA-SAMA, Farewell My L.u.v and even motherfricking KOTO into the mix, that, readers, is just god-tier.
Chris: It’s got to be the O’CHAWANZ compilation of all their CD-R collaborations with various friends.
Daemon: Another tough category, but in the end BURST GIRL’s collaboration with Maya and Kouchi Ogawa produced “miracle story” which I very much enjoyed being stuck in my head for many, many weeks.
Brian: I had a number of faves from O’CHAWANZ with everybody who’s cool, Sozesaya, and Beni Usakura with CHILDISH TONES, but my number one pick is the late-in-the-game collaboration between SAKA-SAMA and Boris, which is something I’ve been pleading to happen for over a year now!
Maniac: When did WAGAMAMARAKIA’s EP technically come out? Can I just say it’s their? Because all those guest writers really took them to the next level.
Performance of the Year
Chris: I’ll go with our readership and pick Babymetal’s European tour, mainly because they were good enough to stop over in my home town and it was the only thing I could get to this year.
Daemon: I love the live show and I wouldn’t have been able to survive this year in isolation without my weekly binges of livestreams from Japan. While I pretend that I maintain The Homicidols Livestream Calendar as a public resource, it is really my personal quarantine coping mechanism. So while I haven’t been in the same room as a live performer since February, I have seen no shortage of stellar shows this year. Some of the best came from Codomomental artists (the epic WANDERLUST show especially). Rei, Okaki and Michelle’s NECROMA graduation/all-star reunion show was mind blowing as were the Gynou Fest broadcasts on Nico Nico. Even Hanako-san allowed herself to be captured on camera this year (although many who viewed that livestream mysteriously dropped dead one week later). But it was lyrical school who showed us early on in this crisis the potential of the livestream medium and just how we live music addicts were going to survive the year.
Brian: Chiaki Mayumura’s concert in Kansas City! Because why cancel a perfect good overseas debut when you can broadcast a live show with an in-house audience consisting of three mannequin heads? Yes, it was odd and more than a bit surreal, but Chichan’s sheer power of personality made it amazing. Sadly, it’s not up online anymore, but perhaps you might find it somewhere. It’s a moment that doesn’t deserve to slip into obscurity.
— わたなべ (@wA_tA_nA_be3) March 13, 2020
EP of the Year
Daemon: Every year Team Homicidols fields at least one complaint of rigging the Best Of voting which we always find humorous because the community results, which we faithfully publish, surprise us every time. The most unexpected result for me this year came in the EP category where BiS took the award with ANTi CONFORMiST SUPERSTAR. Now, I won’t say that there were several better EPs this year since the community has spoken, taste is entirely subjective and the new BiS is surprisingly good. But I do need to say that there were a few newcomers in 2020 that absolutely killed it in this category (Zsasz by Zsasz, Predawn by NELN and Aquler by INUWASI), plus there were some veterans who put out absolutely stellar offerings (UNFINISHED by Malcolm Mask McLaren, Gold by FAREWELL, MY L.u.v and Paper Diamond by the incomparable Kai), not to mention the tragically overlooked, criminally underrated and hands-down BEST (in my entirely subjective and humble opinion) EP of the Year: KIYOKU by LiLii Kaona.
Maniac: Don’t argue with the man. Anyway the right answer is actually Malcolm Mask McLaren.
Cal: All of you are saying a lot of things and none of them are Juvenile by Rilisreverse.
Chris: Stellasugarlet, Kimi to Deatta Koro.
Kerrie: Kai‘s Paper Diamond was just lovely, and it makes me all the more sad that she’s gone.
Brian: Nani’n’Nerun?’s “Short Short Songs 1”! In the fine tradition of skate-thrash bands, Melt Banana, and commercial jingles, the two new Melt More’s knocked out six charming and addictive mini-musical epics in three minutes! Go ahead, listen again, and then twenty more times, and still have most of the day ahead of you! I can’t wait for the sequel. (Very honorable mention: Suzuki Kokone’s “Fever”!)
Papermaiden: You know how some of the symptoms of depression include a reduced attention span/no ability to concentrate and a lack of interest in doing what you usually love? Well, Nani’n’Nerun’s “Short Short Songs 1” took care of the former (and remediated some of the later) due to the constant stimulation of songs changing every 30 seconds or so. With messages like “It’s ok to be makeup-less” and “It’s fun to buy stuff”, it’s also just filled to the brim with potential quarantine anthems.
Single of the Year
Daemon: This is always an insane category as there are never fewer than 100 potential candidates. Sentiment had me leaning towards Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s first major label single, “Afterglow” or Yukueshirezutsurezure’s last, “Still Roaring/REDERA”. But the winner goes to BURST GIRL who took a huge risk with their multiple-collaboration style single “story”, and I think it paid off in a really big way.
Papermaiden: Zenbu Kimi no Sei Da’s Insomnia really hit a soft spot for me, tugging all the right heart strings. If I had to conjure the longing and waiting of this year into a song (with the bittersweet parts included), it would sound like this.
Chris: Shihatsu-machi Underground: “TAKE A TRIP”
Brian: Why it’s “Boys Be Anarchy” by Nani’n’Nerun?!! Because anarchy, man!!!
Maniac: I’ll echo Chris just because I want to give some personal love to Shihatsu-machi, “TAKE A TRIP” is a good single, and I’m kind of out of ideas because when faced with D’s dilemma I just let my brain give up.
Papermaiden: The aforementioned Suicide Borderless is the only song that has managed to induce workouts because it’s so compelling you can’t help but dance to it. However, Frun Frin Friends‘ Yum Yum deserves a mention, as it is specifically written as a pandemic song and it’s catchy as heck.
Cal: For me I tend to like meme tokyo. B-sides more than the lead song so Suicide Borderless, Reality War and their cover of Dempagumi Inc’s Brand New World have all been an absolute joy. Also I can’t stop hearing Rito enunciate “Uber Eats” like in Reality War whenever I order with Uber Eats now.
Brian: I vote for “Natsuyasumi Jyudan No Koi” by SAKA-SAMA, which is probably more of a “deep cut” than a b-side. It’s actually an early song of the group, but a recording of it didn’t finally show up until this year on the “Songbook 1” EP, and it’s also included on the new album!
Chris: Machida Girls’ Choir: “Bohemian Rhapsody”. Look, I just have a weakness for idols covering well-known western songs, okay?
Daemon: “Afterglow” was excellent, but “beyond the blue.”, on the B-Side of Yanakoto Sotto Mute’s first major label single, was so good that they named their upcoming album after it.
Best Cover Art
Daemon: I don’t think anything was as disturbingly brilliant as the cover of MIGMA SHELTER’s Alice:
明日お昼12:00にアルバム「ALICE」のAQBI ONLINE SHOPご購入特典に関するレギュレーションのお知らせがあります！
— MIGMA SHELTER公式 (@MIGMASHELTER) August 25, 2020
Cal: GO TO THE BEDS and PARADISES work with the artist Hideyuki Tanaka a lot and I just loooved the cover art for ENVIES. That bear… cat… thing. Creature. Whatever it is it’s cute okay.
— 田中秀幸 (@Tanaka2000) September 7, 2020
Chris: BiS’s “LOOKiE”, even without being able to see it properly.
2/5 発売「LOOKiE」発売記念 ミニライブ＆特典会
@ MAG’s PARK
— BiS−新生アイドル研究会-オフィシャル (@BiSidol) February 22, 2020
Brian: My favorite overall package of graphic design meets lovely aesthetics goes to Cinema and Boy CQ for “The Picture Show of Chronic Deja Vu”. I would’ve quite likely bought this on the merits of the art alone, but being that the album is absolutely excellent, it’s a win all-around!
— 【電影と少年CQ】Official (@cinemaboycq) November 18, 2020
Song of the Year
Daemon: The best new song this year is “Rust” by LiLii Kaona. Honorable mention to FAREWELL, MY L.u.v’s “Happy Light”, Peri Ubu’s “Shape Up!” and the utterly infectious “dog kawaii” by MIC RAW RUGA(laboratory). I would not have survived 2020 without these four tunes.
Cal: I’m back on my Peri Ubu pedestal so for me it’s Seijin Shiki but, I really can’t stress enough how much of a nightmare those lyrics are. First of all the title is a pun on the Japanese coming of age day tradition but the sei in seijin is written with the kanji for strength/energy instead of the kanji for becoming an adult. So instead of coming of age ceremony it’s literally “strong human ceremony”, but phonetically pronounced the same. That’s a lot of exposition for a song that mostly makes me want to shake my ass.
Chris: Chiaki Mayumura: “Kao Don”. As well as having a great, fun video (see immediately below), this is a great, fun song that does the quiet verse/loud chorus thing so well, with plenty of “oi-oi-oi”s and “ia-ia-ia-ia”s to shout along to and some bonus growling in the middle. One of the best songs from one of the best idols.
Papermaiden: Not longer an idol and they’re just a friend now, but Yoneko‘s STAYHOME is still relevant as fuck, so here it goes.
Maniac: I’ll take the opportunity that PM just did to go with something idol-adjacent here, because Poppy’s “Don’t Go Outside” that was released what feels like an entire lifetime ago is both extremely good anyway, but a great capper for a great album, and boy oh boy does it ever inadvertently sum up how the year went.
Brian: “Everything About My Precious You“ by RAY. What a masterpiece that encapsulates the melancholy of this year, but finds a calm beauty within. I love it.
Music Video of the Year
Daemon: This is another category where it is hard to know where to even start. Some of my absolute favorites (Yanakoto Sotto Mute, Yukueshirezutsurezure, Shihatsu-machi Underground and LiLii Kaona) put out contenders, but for me it came down to a battle between two newbies. In the end, “crier” by INUWASI ranked second only to NELN’s amazing cinematic achievement, “Rolling Music”:
Cal: I do love a bit of tabloid gossip so FLASH by MAMESHiBA NO TAiGUN as a giant reference to Nao of Nao’s underage drinking scandal was a treat. I’m glad nobody took any of that seriously because well, anybody upset by a girl who was like a month away from Japan’s legal drinking age at the time having a beer with dinner is probably a maniac. Not our beloved maniac either, the baaaaad kind.
Kerrie: NECRONOMIDOL‘s santa sangre for the sole reason of making me go “Hey!! I get that reference!!!”
Papermaiden: I was transfixed by RILISREVERSE‘s Juvenile. Normally, anything RILISREVERSE is Cal’s domain, but Cal is of a persuasion that doesn’t appreciate Mikoto’s thighs as much as they deserve. This video is full of (sufficiently sapphic) human touch and that feels great to watch. The outfits and makeup are great, the editing is simple but super efficient. It’s just … very good!
Brian: FEVER by Suzuki Kokone! What a lovely, lively, charming and sweet breath of freshness. It’s exactly what I wanted and needed. And I’m a big sucker for public dancing and one-take filming. It’s my favorite by a long-shot!
Maniac: I’m the obnoxious dork who still compares idol MVs to the ridiculous achievements that we were graced with in 2016. Which, granted, was a pretty great year for music videos. There’s a lot of good stuff happening all the time, actually, and I had a tough time picking between various personal faves here before settling on Chiaki’s “Boukentai ~Heroes of the old forest~” which … well, you look at it:
Chris: Chiaki Mayumura: “Kao Don” — It’s hard for me to follow exactly what is going on here but it seems to be a charming tale of a clumsy bird accidentally stomping on a flower, nursing it back to health and then accidentally stomping it on again, meanwhile his mouse associate eats meaty snacks, plays the recorder on the toilet and then dresses up as a unicorn knight. These fellows seem to be existing characters from a YouTube cartoon series but to me, an ignorant gaijin, it’s just a wonderfully loopy video to a loopily wonderful song.
Album of the Year
Cal: I’ll have to agree on HALLO PIGGS being a banger but START by MAMESHiBA NO TAiGUN was an unexpected fave. It’s the right mix of that Matsukuma Kenta patented WACK sound I love and just fun kinda sugary jpop. Also this year I worked a depressing night shift job for a little while so listening to KAQRIYOTERROR‘s Avant-gardE 0 Chiten in my headphones hidden under my hair made me want to die less. Sometimes you just need a giantess with horns coming out of her head screaming about premature ejaculation and cheating at rock paper scissors to get you through the 1am shift.
Daemon: In a year where Hanako-san, Yukueshirezutsurezure and RAY all released amazing albums, I never thought that I would ever give the Best Album nod to someone else, but 2020 has been just that weird and HALLO PIGGS is just that good.
Maniac: It’s HALLO PIGGS, isn’t it? So damn good. I had a lot of other short-term faves over the year, but yeah, Lui’s Revenge probably deserves it. I’m just mad that I never got to write my “The New PIGGS Album Is Proof That Pour Lui Needs WACK Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle” post because Cal stole the review. We need more Gloria-Steinem-but-actually-Irina-Dunn quotes on this website.
Brian: There were quite a few great ones… Daydream by SAKA-SAMA, The Picture Show of Chronic Deja Vu by Cinema and Boy CQ, Neo Saya by Okinawa Electric Girl Saya, but my ultimate favorite is still the one that came out the earliest in the year. Of course it’s Pink by RAY!I listened it to it far more than anything else.
Chris: Childish Tones feat. Beni Usakura: God Bless The Girls, a selection of cover versions, some of which are of songs I know, played on toy instruments, with Beni sounding like a sixties chanteuse over the top – well it just pushes all my buttons and just sounds so different.
Performer of the Year
Cal: Yui Ga Dockson has always been one of my favourite idols so i’m a little biased but man I love all of the stunts she pulls whenever she performs Like a Virgin. From pretending to decapitate herself to the baby head… thing. Also she’s just so fun to follow, just as sweet as she is silly. Basically what you’d expect from somebody named after the first thing Buddha said when he was born.
Kerrie: Tenka no Chanyuki for kicking a dude that was getting too excited.
Chris: Booked to play in Kansas City, only to have COVID cancel it with about a day’s notice, Chiaki Mayumura decided to perform anyway to a bunch of mannequins, and it was as enthralling a show as any other she puts on.
Maniac: I’m really mad on Mayumura Chiaki’s behalf that she didn’t win this going away. She’s always growing and always doing great work, and 2020 was just one massive blow of awesome after another. And with pretty high stakes, too!
Daemon: As always, Hanako-san will get my nod in the hopes that she will continue to refrain from murdering me in the toilet.
Brian: I struggled with several choices here, but since Maniac & Chris have Chiaki properly mentioned, I’m going to throw my hat in for Ide Chiyono (3776). This is kind of a left-field pick because she doesn’t come up in the blog very often. I’ve actually been meaning to contribute an all-encompassing article about her for some time, but it’s a LOT to cover. Next year I’ll get it written, I promise!
Idol of the Year
Daemon: Despite all of the challenges of 2020, quite a few units leveled-up this year. Two of the biggest standouts for me were Malcom Mask McLaren and Shihatsu-machi Underground. Both are putting out consistently excellent music and just slaying it in their lives. But the unit who produced the most breathtaking performances in 2020, both in the studio and onstage, was LiLii Kaona. They are a beautiful revelation and contributed quite heavily to my efforts to stay sane over the past several months.
Maniac: You know what’s wild? For the first time — and I’m including during Team’s nomination process — I thought about this for more than a few seconds. Maybe it’s because I just had a good reminder? But I had to think: What really makes an Of The Year? We’ve always treated this category like a catch-all, did you have great performances and do really notable things and release great music and do people love you? That’s a tough tally for 2020, isn’t it? International touring basically didn’t happen, and even a lot of the kinds of breathtaking live shows you’d see at major festivals were out of the question. So I thought, who released the greatest quantity of truly enjoyable music and puts on a good show and scratches my personal itch to be a little bit different? And I land right on … not who I thought I would. It was NEO JAPONISM, who released and sold a ton and keep upping their game, for a minute, but I couldn’t quite make it work on further review. But do you know who’s tearing things up right now and is getting bajillions of video views and working with all manner of J-music notables? WAGAMAMARAKIA, that’s who, so congrats, you’re my personal Idol of the Year.
Cal: I like that Guropanako from the WACKchin online audition who was definitely not me. No ma’am.
Kerrie: While other idols have suffered in 2020, O’CHAWANZ have done pretty darn well.
Papermaiden: Yukueshirezutsurezure. Don’t make me repeat myself.
Brian: It’s a tough call… but after intense personal debate, I’m declaring it’s YOU’LL MELT MORE! and dammit all if they don’t deserve it.
Chris: I’ve gone on enough about her already but it is the one and only Chiaki Mayumura.