Tokyo Idol Festival Part 4

Even more idols were added! Right now the current count on the TIF page is, get this, 82 separate groups/acts! There is a lot of stuff to cover, so I’m going to try my best to get these posts out as much as possible, which means that I’m putting some content I’ve been working on for Happy Disco on the backburner to try and focus on TIF.

Up’s Infinity

The thing about Up’s Infinity is that they’re not just an idol unit, but a rock band as well; perhaps closer to something like SCANDAL than like idol units? According to their TIF blurb they come from a TV show “Bandoru” (clearly a portmanteau of band and aidoru), and their TV show looks to be a mix of variety and documenting their journey of becoming a band even though they don’t have much experience in the music industry.

The latest four episodes are up HERE if you’re interested. Finding other videos is honestly tough, as searching Up’s Infinity gets very few results and Bandoru (in Japanese) is tough as well, so if you  know anything about them please leave a comment! Quite frankly, hearing some stuff from their digests on YouTube, I can’t say I’m TOO impressed, but maybe that’s part of the idolness of their group, the fact that they’re so new.

Still, if you prefer live instruments and bands to your standard idols, Up’s Infinity might be something you might be interested in, since they’re not the typical idol group.

Ayaman Japan

This is another non-traditional group but for different reasons! This actually started as an entertainment group and to this day there are 100 members of that group, that entertain at parties only if you know one of the members and that don’t get paid. However, back in 2010 three members started to make media appearances and they’ve started to release music. Three singles have been released so far, and the one that’s made the biggest splash was their first single, Poi Poi Poi Popoi Poi Popii.

Ayaman is almost the antithesis to the traditional idol group, with Poi Poi littered with sexually suggestive lyrics and scenes in the PV (featuring chanting S-E-X, featuring their breasts and humping statues). For all that idols are supposed to be pure and virginal, Ayaman Japan is almost the opposite, and I’d imagine if you were tired of the traditional idol image that Ayaman Japan might be a reprieve from that. According to this interesting article on Kotaku, “If AKB48 are idols you can meet,” leader Ayaman recently said on variety show Shabekuri 007, “we’re idols you can…” That last bit was bleeped out on television.”

If you’re looking for good idol music and singing, Ayaman Japan is not your best bet. However, I’m betting that their performance on the TIF stage is going to be one of the most interesting and unusual ones, and definitely something to check out.

Izukoneko

This is another one of those idols that is super hard to find information about, unfortunately. The only site that I could find is her Ameblo, without a major official site (as far as I can find) and without a Japanese wikipedia page. So if any of you guys are majorly into Izukoneko, please give me more information!

Izukoneko is a 17 year old soloist who it appears has done at least one anime songs. She made her debut in October. She’s done at least two singles; Rainy Irony is pretty pleasant to listen to (even though I half expected her to bring out Alanis Morissette in there).

At first I wasn’t super impressed by her presence in the Rainy Irony PV, but seeing a clip of her live (on her youtube izukoneko) she seems like one of those idols that excels live. I’d recommend giving Rainy Irony a try because it’s not really a typical idol sound (despite the ‘nyan nyan nyan’s in there, fitting her name).

OS*U

Standing for Osu Super Idol Unit, this group was formed near the end of 2010 and just performed their first solo show for 500 people and will be performing at Zepp Nagoya, so it looks like they’re gaining a bit of popularity, at least for being indie idols. They are local idols from the Aichi prefecture (which is also where SKE48 hails from) with fifteen members. Even though they’re relatively new they’ve released five indies level singles, so it looks like they’re a pretty active group. They also have two subgroups, Pop Star and Smile Star, that allows them to promote more.

Osu is a shopping area, but it can be said to be the Akihabara of Nagoya; it is a shopping district that has a good deal of electronics shopping,and the OS*U site proclaims it to be a land of idol, anime, maid and otaku culture. So if this is the case, it makes sense that at least one idol group would be formed there. After all, AKB48 is so big after being formed in Akihabara.

From what I’ve seen of their videos, they seem pretty unpolished and unafraid of fanservice (as shown in their Surfing Striker PV), and the sound of the Surfing Striker song doesn’t have the greatest audio mixing in the world (the girls’ voices are pretty quiet at parts). However, they seem cute, enthusiastic and like they’re having fun, which can really go a long way in the idol world.

So far not much stands out in the way of songs, concepts and themes, but they’re definitely not bad and are worth checking out.

Ogawa Mana

Here’s an idol you ought to know, if (like me) you enjoy the more obscure side of Tsunku’s idol pop. Back when I wrote my section on The Possible I gave a brief introduction to TNX, Tsunku’s label, and Nice Girl Project, the idol project on TNX. While The Possible was the most popular among TNX, another idol group, Canary Club, was fairly active for a while . Canary Club seems to have lost quite a few of its members (only four or five, looks like) and their last release was all the way back in 2010 (Daisukki, selling just shy of 2250), but back in the day Tsunku seemed to be attempting to make a star out of the front girl of Canary Club, Ogawa Mana.

Ogawa Mana has released only one single (Suppin Rock) and one album (1 Teenage Blues) but she really has done a lot more as a solo artist. Probably her most notable thing was being the voice actress for anime, Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou as main character Kitagami Mimi. This lead to a number of singles released under MM Gakuen Gasshoubu (the first two) and Kitagami Mimi with MM Gakuen Gasshoubu. The single probably most known to H!P fans is the last, Oshare My Dream, as that’s the single that had the Sugaya Risako solo, Elegant Girl. The songs for Ogawa Mana’s releases are written by Tsunku and are often pretty good, compared to his current H!P stuff, so she’s definitely worth checking out.

Another notable release was as a promotion for the brand COCOLULU, so she was the main singer for the unit COCO CREW.

I had honestly thought that with her switch back to Spacecraft as opposed to TNX/NGP that the idol world had heard the last from Ogawa Mana, but this appearance at TIF might say otherwise! She’s a cute girl with a pretty solid voice and a great presence, so it will definitely be interesting to see where her career goes from here! I definitely recommend checking out some of Canary Club’s stuff (I personally prefer Sweet & Toughness and Hitomi ga Kirakirara) and her anime songs (I love Mecha Mote I Love You).


^Canary Club, Ogawa Mana’s up in front in yellow

Okite Porsche

At first when I looked Okite Porsche up I was very very confused. He’s not an idol act but a man, according to wikipedia vocalist to new wave band Roman Porsche, and a guy who’s done work in movies and anime, as well. However, after a bit of investigation, he’s behind retro group Vanilla Beans and also has some connection to indies era Perfume, as well as being a fan of Berryz Koubou, apparently.

I still don’t quite know why he’s listed as a participant in TIF, but perhaps he’ll be performing a role as DJ (something he has experience in) or even doing MCs.

Osaka Show Gangs

This is another group that has been around for a long time, but that has run under the radar! They’ve been around since 2006 and have remained pretty active since (having released a number of singles and a couple of albums). They currently have 10 members and, as their name implies, hail from Osaka. While I haven’t heard of them and finding much on them is a bit tricky, they seem pretty busy, at least according to their website. In fact, the more I find about them the more relevant they seem (since they’re appeared in indie events with groups I have heard of, BiS and Idol College. They also often wear modified yukata, as they have a theme of being like an energetic young woman at a festival. They label themselves as a dance and vocal unit, which is a label that tends to be used if they’re going for strong vocals and dance, and they deserve it. While the dance seems to be pretty decent, there are some really great vocalists among their rank, especially in their latest single, Poji Joshi Sengen, which is a REALLY good song. This actually may be one of my favorite songs of the new groups I’ve found. They have other good stuff (Osaka Wasshoi is very nice), but this song is great. The PV is much less so, but is pretty ambitious for such an indie group. Other than that, finding more is kind of hard, but they’re all energetic and with such good music they’re definitely a group to keep an eye out for.

Kaiketsu! Tropical Maru

Yet another group I didn’t know! Just a quick google search in English reveals that they’ve hit #4 on the indie charts once, but since #1 was AKBN0 I don’t know if that says that much. Called Kaitoro, they were formed in 2011 and are from the same company as AeLL, who is also coming to TIF (and I covered previously). They currently have 8 members who all have a specific “tropical fruit” and color with them (though, since one of them is strawberry, tropical is kind of used loosely here). They are also related to Tsunku in that it seems he had a hand in naming the group (and/or promoting them via Tsuntube). Their first live was only last November, and they have released two singles this year, Tropical Kiss and Here We Go!?. So they’re one of the relative newbies at TIF. So far, watching a couple of live videos on YouTube on their official channel, they appear to be pretty professional performers but the songs really don’t do much for me. Perhaps it’s since they came from the same company as AeLL, whose songs really didn’t do much for me? I do think the concept of having an image fruit is pretty cute, though, and the performances seem to be pretty strong for their relative inexperience. Still, while I’m not super impressed by their music yet, there’s really not that much from them yet, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do in a setting like TIF.

4 thoughts on “Tokyo Idol Festival Part 4

  1. I think the reason Canary Club and Ogawa Mana aren’t that active is that Tsunku has officially run out of good ideas. Current H!P music is pretty bland, with only a good tune every few months (“Please Miniskirt Postwoman!” by S/mileage, for example). I’m not familiar with that anime you mentioned, although I have always wondered why Mana was using that Mimi name for her singles. Surely, however, you have seen SASAMI’S MAGICAL GIRL CLUB, which Mana also voiced the main character?

    • Hm, that’s a fair assumption, actyou really have to find the gemsually. I mean, just look at The Matenrou Show, which is a clear rehash of Busu ni Naranai Tetsugaku and Kono Chikyuu etc. I definitely agree with you about Please Miniskirt Postwoman, though. \

      I haven’t seen it, but I’ve heard of it. The only reason I’m familiar with this anime is because I enjoy some of the songs ^^;;

  2. Actually, Okite Porsche was at TiF also last year. You can actually get a small glimpse of him (+ Vanilla Beans) at around 2:23 in the digest from FujiTV

  3. You hit the nail on the head with Izukoneko. I only knew her live at first, and when I looked her up on youtube to show someone, it was disappointing. It wasn’t what I thought portrayed her at all. Her energetic lives are fun, and she’s adorable to talk to.

    As for Ogawa Mana, she has a few more live shows coming up besides TIF including a solo show next week. I’m not sure if the sudden activity means anything. Also she always has updated her blog a lot.

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