Japan’s entertainment industry is expanding and evolving even as I write this. A then brand new magazine called Live Idol Collection debuted with its first issue as of July 19, 2014. Images source: http://www.oricon.co.jp.
The entertainment industry in Japan has entered what is now being called the Idol Warrior Era with idol groups really making their mark in the entertainment industry. There are several groups known as “underground idols.” Unlike the idols that fans see in groups such as AKB48, these idols focus primarily on live performances and they do not take part in media events. This first issue of the magazine has a swimsuit collection where 28 very popular groups from a large pool of over 1,000 groups will make their appearances dressed in swimsuits. Candy GO! GO!, which is one of the most popular groups was set on making their appearances in Live Idol Collection. There was also going to be a time where fans would get the opportunity to vote for the groups that they think are most popular. The winner will appear on the cover of the next issue and get a chance to hold a special live event. There was also a commemorative event to celebrate the launch of the magazine which took place from July 26th through August 2nd 2014 at Tokyo Toyosu’s Magic Beach. Note: I know that 2014 is past but this story is still worth writing about.
What is an idol? An idol is basically a girl or a young woman who is part of a musical group where fans can meet them. These girls hold live performances in theaters on stage and they dance on stage as well. The most popular idol group in Japan is now AKB48. Other popular idol groups include Morning Musume (now Morning Musume 16), HKT48, NMB48, SNH48, and JKT48. Idols are marketed to be girls that everyone really likes. They are required to have a very clean image and to be role models for young people to look up to. Idols are also responsible for being involved in other areas of the entertainment industry such as becoming actresses, starring in TV variety programs, and bikini models especially for magazines. These girls that want to enter the Japanese idol industry must attend an audition to determine whether they qualify or not. Often times, these girls will be placed in the area where girls that are training to become members of these groups sing in. There is one very important rule in the Japanese entertainment industry that absolutely must be followed. That rule is that members of these idol groups are not allowed to date or have boyfriends. An infraction of the rule could result in the member being demoted down to Kenkyuusei or training status or they will be kicked out of the group for sure.
Idol singers are not regarded as “serious” musicians and they usually sing songs that are sweet, up-tempo and exciting with lots of beats. These idols usually have a very large following and Japanese society is obsessed with cuteness and youth. This is part of the Japanese public’s adoration of everything that is considered to be kawaii (the Japanese word for cute). There is one exception among these idol or girl groups as they are sometimes known. The girl group called BABYMETAL mixes Japanese pop music with thrash metal to create a heavy, aggressive, and exciting sound. I’ve only listened to a few of their songs. The group even played in Los Angeles earlier this year.
And then there are other types of idols known as gravure idols. These idols typically appear in photo shoots or magazines being dressed in lingerie, bikinis, or even swimsuits. They also release photo books that show them in different styles of clothing and they have to do photo shoots in different areas such as beaches, public buildings, and sometimes even on snowy streets. Bikini model Yoko Mitsuya had to do her photo shoot for her photo book Dear that was released in November 2000. Gravure idols are also known as gravure models. These models are one of the most popular features of the Japanese entertainment industry and they tend to present and show a very sexy image. And just like members of these idol groups, gravure idols attend events where they promote their DVD releases and then they also meet and greet their fans. The fans can have their picture taken with them. Popular gravure models include Yoko Matsugane, Harumi Nemoto, Miri Hanai, and Aki Hoshino. Live Idol Collection celebrated its 2nd anniversary on July 19, 2016!