Tokyo Idol Festival 2015 – Part 3

Eien Shoujo

Eien Shoujo is pretty much a solo act that has background dancers so it’s kind of a group. It’s one girl, Kaorori, and her background dancers – on the official Eien Shoujo Ameblo they have four girls listed. She’s performed with more dancers, though.

Eien Shoujo made her debut at last year’s Tokyo Idol Festival, so it’s been not quite a year since. In that year she hasn’t done too much, at least not too much that I can see. She does some lives here and there, but not much that makes its way for the internet to see. She does have original songs, but nothing really new since her debut.

Still, I think if she keeps at it she does have potential. I do like her songs (Eien Shoujo Philosophy is pretty good) and the limited performance I’ve seen of her I do like; she has some good energy. I think it’s hard to follow her as a foreign fan, just because there isn’t much online, but if you’re actually going to TIF then you might want to check Eien Shoujo out.

HKT48

OK, I’m no going to introduce much of HKT48, because I’m sure most of you who are reading this are aware of their existence – they are the sister group to AKB48 from Fukuoka.

Personally, I used to be a much bigger 48 fan than I am now. I still pay vague attention to the groups – I like being a well-rounded idol fan/blogger, and I still like a few of the members in the groups. However, what felt exciting to me in 2010 and 2011 feels almost dated in 2015; it feels like the 48 groups are often just going through the motions with very little innovation. It also doesn’t help that I haven’t enjoyed much of the 48 groups’ music for the past couple of years.

Honestly, I don’t think HKT48 is a great fit for TIF. The reason I write about TIF every year is because how it showcases indie and upcoming groups, and HKT is neither of those things. There are a few bigger groups at TIF, but HKT feels almost too big, especially since they’re guaranteed to draw a crowd.

HKT48 and the other 48 groups haven’t done much for me lately, which is kind of a shame. I don’t think this is a great fit for TIF, but if you do like HKT48 this could be an opportunity to see them in an interesting setting.

Especia

 While I’m in general a pretty music-centric idol fan (I can’t follow an idol group unless I enjoy the music), Especia is one of the few groups where I feel content JUST following the music, because it’s so interesting. Especia has a really great 80s/early 90s pop sound to them, reclaiming what is now kitschy and uncool in hindsight… and making it cool. I’ve seen it connected to the vaporwave movement, especially with their visual aesthetic in PVs for songs like Kuru ka na and No1 Sweeper, two songs from last year I particularly love. The group even describes their sound on the TIF site as being “80’s POP/AOR/BOOGIE DISCO/FUNK/WEST SIDE MELLOW HIP HOP/JAZZY R&B” which actually works. The point is, Especia is one of the most musically and aesthetically interesting groups out there right now.

The group was formed in 2012 and features five members (all, while a bit older for idol standards, much too young to remember the era they’re evoking). The group was formed by Tsubasa Records, and I think is pretty extraordinary, given their unusual sound. Also, despite being a smaller group, they do perform with live instruments which is pretty great.

While they aren’t super easy to follow on, say, Youtube (it’s been a year since their last PV..) they are more album focused, and luckily part of their new album, Primera, is on American iTunes, so you should definitely check them out. Even if you aren’t super into this music, I’d say you should check Especia out just by virtue of the fact that they are a completely unique and interesting group.

X21

If looks are a major factor of you liking an idol group, X21 might be the group for you. Formed in 2012 from finalists of a nationwide beauty contest (the leader of the group was one of the winners); while the group started with 20 members, I believe they moved to just 12 for their CD debut in 2014.

In the past I wondered about the musical potential of this group, considering that they are so based upon looks. However, they have made their musical debut at Avex, so that gives them a certain level of polish, whether you care for the music or not. They have so far put out four singles (the latest being X Gift) and one album (Shoujo X).

I have to admit, all the members are really gorgeous; looks aren’t the biggest draw for me with idols, but all these members are really pretty. And, while I assume they are working with solid vocal producing talent over at Avex, the members sound great for being chosen for their looks. Musically most of their stuff is pretty uninspiring; not bad but not particularly intriguing. X Gift is a very cute Christmas-themed song, though, and I actually like Shoujo X, a song clearly inspired by the classic Nakamori Akina song.

Ultimately if you want looks from your idol group, X21 might be your best bet. Otherwise, they do have a lot of polish which comes from being an Avex group, so that might be another reason to give them a shot. Personally they don’t do too much for me, but my opinion has so drastically improved that I might have to keep more of an eye on X21 in the future.

Osaka Shunkashuto

Well, I don’t have to guess where this group comes from! Hailing from Osaka, in their TIF profile they claim that “once you see them you’ll never forget, and you’ll want to see them again.” Well, we’ll see about that!

Doing a quick google search of this group, I found two interesting articles about Osaka Shunka Shuto at Pure Idol Heart and at New School Kaidan. The group started out as a dance group that did performances and were discovered and subsequently produced by a videographer and filmmaker, Soezima Shingo. The group got its start through crowdfunding, and, remarkably (as of April 2014) the group has a staff of one – Soezima himself. When he needs help he calls on his friends (who happen to be professionals) but he’s the only permanent staff member for this group. So far they have released a mini album and two singles.

Watching the music video for C’mon, their latest single, I have to say I’m impressed by the group. The lead singer has a great voice, all the members are very skilled at dance, and the song is really catchy. The PV is pretty simple, all things considered, but it still has a lot of visually interesting moments and is clearly well made. Going and watching another video for Chameleon Shoujo (off their mini album), these things all seem to be true here.

However, one of the more exciting things for us foreign idol fans is that Osaka Shunkashuto is VERY good to foreign fans. Their music is all on American iTunes, they did English versions of some of their songs, and their documentary videos (on Soezima’s youtube channel) have English-language captions. This group is incredibly accessible for non-Japanese speakers and fans outside of Japan.

All of these things add up to making Osaka Shunkashuto a very unique group. I really like both C’Mon and Chameleon Shoujo, and I know I’m going to go watch more videos from this group when I have the chance. If you like unique or interesting groups, Osaka Shunkashuto is well worth your time.

1 thought on “Tokyo Idol Festival 2015 – Part 3

  1. Pingback: Recommended Jpop♀ Reading: June 22, 2015 | Idolminded

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