Welcome to Issue 1 of Volume 4: IDOL
The life of an idol is nothing short of the idyllic and fantastical. One minute you’re sitting in your bedroom and the next you’re performing in front of thousands. It sounds like a fairytale, but for some it becomes a reality!
Perfectly straight hair, perfect skin, perfectly put together uniform—honestly, they’re just perfect from head-to-toe! Idols are all-round superstars, from their singing and dancing, to their unique personalities, endless optimism and charm. What’s not to love? And the best part is anyone can be an idol if they work hard enough! But the reality is, it’s not all giggles and fun. The idol industry in Japan is tough to break into and in the current “Idol Warring Period” it’s every idol for themselves. With thousands looking to make their mark, you have to have something special to stand out.
Part One, Hello Project, recounts the origins of Japanese idol culture.
You may have heard of the Akihabara-based group AKB48 and their many (emphasis on the “many”) members. What about self-proclaimed otakus, Dempagumi.inc? Why are these groups so popular and how did idols even become a thing? In this part, we speak to Japanese pop culture expert and co-author of Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno: Tokyo Teen Fashion Subculture Handbook, Patrick Macias about where it all began. We also talk to up-and-coming idol, Ari from Yumepedia, about her typical day, and find out a little bit more about idol rankings.
In Part Two, Love Live, we hit the main stage!
Fresh-faced and full of pep, these idols are always ready to perform! They’ve formed a group, have an established fanbase and released a few songs. Some have managed to break out of the typical idol system and are making their own way. From self-produced idol Ayana to the rising stars of social media, there’s more than one way to be an idol in this day-and-age. And whoever you are, there are fans willing to follow you along your journey. We also speak to idol mega fans to find out why they love idols and why they aspire to become one.
Finally in Part Three, Graduation, the idol says goodbye.
Some idols are so iconic that fans can’t seem to let them go. Take the legendary singer Namie Amuro, for example. Her legacy lives on through her signature early 2000s gyaru style and powerful vocals. But the truth is, idols inevitably retire and move on to pursue other careers. We talk to Beckii Cruel who has been there, done that and has made steps towards a promising new future.
We hope you enjoy this tour of idol culture. These idols are inspirational, and full of purpose and whimsy! But the conversation doesn’t stop here. What’s your dream? Do you want to become an idol? Or are you happy to be a wota? Whatever your path, share it with us using the hashtag #thecommoffline. We’ll be there cheering you on!