Timetable of the concert is up! Parts of it are up for changing, but at the end of these posts (whenever they come) I’ll put up my ideal timetable in addition to my overall group recommendations.
While I haven’t heard of this group before, they come from a very well known background! Their main producer is Onda Yoshihito, who is best known for being a member of the rock group JUDY AND MARY. He’s now a well known composer and producer, and so even though I haven’t heard of SHAKE they come from a very well known rock background, which is pretty unique for an indies level idol group.
According to their blurb on the TIF site, their goal is to be a dance group that performs high quality original songs as well as anime song covers and to be able to do strong dance performances. There are three members in the group, and they have a much more mature/cool image than a lot of the cuter groups, which fits since all the members are in their 20s and are thus on the older side (all of them are older than me, in fact!)
They’ve so far released four singles all titled “Shake vol. 1” with the numbers going up. Not the most creative name ever, but hey. They started releasing singles in 2009, and most recently released their first PV/live video collection DVD.
Looking at the promo vid released for their video collection, I’m a bit disappointed in their dance like the last group. While they’re certainly not bad dancers and perform better/tighter than a lot of idol groups, I feel like calling yourself a dance group implies that the dances are somehow considerably harder. However, their voices are all nice and the original songs are pretty high quality, which is really nice. The songs fit the more mature feel to the group and don’t sound particularly idolly, which could be a plus or negative depending on the person.
Still, while I do think they’re good and produce high quality stuff, I can’t help but feel like they could be a bit better, given who they come from. They’re definitely fine, and if you like more mature groups they might fit you better, but they aren’t necessarily what I’m looking for.
If you follow Tokyo Idol Festival like I do, you should know JK21 now; they’ve been performing at TIF since its first year, 2010. JK21 is a Kansai based local idol unit, with their name standing for Japan Kansai 21st Century. There are currently five members, which means that unfortunately they’ve lost two members since their latest single, Nanairo Real. They also have a subgroup/sister group “JK21 Pucchi Musume” as well as their own kenkyuusei, which is a bit surprising given the fact they’re still pretty small in popularity; Nanairo Real sold just under 3000 copies, which certainly isn’t bad but doesn’t quite warrant a kenkyuusei system in my opinion.
According to the blurb on the TIF site, their biggest claim to fame is doing a cheering song for the baseball team Hanshin Tigers (which, personal sidenote, is Ishikawa Rika’s favorite team who she’s a major fan of), Win! Win! Tigers, which is a pretty good deal for a group who was releasing on an indie label at the time. They’ve released six singles (that’s including their two indies singles) as well as two albums, which is a pretty good number of releases all things considered.
Back when the setlist for TIF 2012 first came out I was just about to write about JK21 before all the new additions were added and I was set back a little. However, when I realized it would be a while until I wrote about JK21 I felt a bit of relief, truth be told, because beyond the basics of what I explained already there’s not much extraordinary about them. There’s nothing wrong with the group at all, though, and their songs are pretty good, especially Koi no Kiseki and Nanairo Real.
Shizukaze & Kizuna
Shizukaze and Kizuna have been at TIF for three years as well, but actually started out as just Shizukaze so that might be how you’re more familiar with them, if you know them at all. Shizukaze was a unit made up of two girls, one named Shizuka and the other named Fuka (but she has the kanji for Kaze in her name) so their names were combined to be Shizukaze. They performed and released some stuff under Shizukaze for a while, but in 2010 combined with the idol unit KIZUNA (actually it’s “絆~Kizuna~” but 絆 is the kanji for Kizuna, so I’ll just use it once).
They are another self-proclaimed rock unit an it seems like they actually do that; while their latest single “Oo.Shizukaze ni Notte.oO” is pretty laid back and is typical idol, the C-Side on this release is called “Yellow Fuckin’ Idol?” (No, I’m not making that up), so Shizukaze & KIZUNA is definitely atypical. Their vocals aren’t really great, and they don’t sound like they were altered when making Shizukaze ni Notte, so their vocals have kind of an untouched sound which I have to say isn’t very pleasant when the vocalists aren’t doing so great. If you like good dancing, KIZUNA in particular is very strong at dancing and might be one of the better TIF units at doing that.
Still, despite their faults they seem to be strong performers (an article on Pure Idol Heart HERE details the strengths of a Shizukaze & Kizuna live), and if you want more of a rock sensibility (they clearly all sing live and they do focus on rock music) you might have an interest in Shizukaze & KIZUNA.
While I personally don’t follow Jewel Kiss, I know from the forums at Hello!Online that they do have a small passionate fanbase. I’ve been vaguely aware of their existence for some time now, and I think part of that is because they’ve covered Hello!Project songs in the past. They’re yet another unit that has been at TIF for three years, so they are definitely established in the indie idol scene. They actually are based in Hokkaidou and have been doing the “each member has a set color” thing since 2008. There are currently seven members, after their eighth member left last year. Their age ranges from 11 years old to 16 years old, however they have a decidedly younger/cuter image, as most of the girls are around that 11-12 year old age range.
They’ve so far released three singles and one live DVD. Despite now having some more releases under their belt they are still a very small, indie group and are still performing at the indie focused Fantastic Stage at TIF this year, so it doesn’t seem like there’s been much growth, at least popularity wise. They do sing all of their stuff life (which is pretty admirable for some groups) and they’ve definitely improved vocally since I’ve last heard them! Their latest song, Renge ~Lovers Flower~ has a traditional sound to it, which might be a cool image for them to try out. Their singing and dancing has improved since I’ve last seen a Jewel Kiss video.
This is another group that’s a pretty standard cute group without any added gimmicks or things to set them apart. However, lately their singing and dancing is pretty solid (for idol standards) so if you want an indie cute girl group to support you might want to look into Jewel Kiss.
Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku
Here’s a group that I’m a big fan of! Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku is another idol group from Stardust Music Company, the company behind Momoiro Clover Z. Ebichu (as the fans call them) is known as the little sister group to MomoClo, and have appeared at MomoClo concerts before. However, despite being a little sister group, it’s been a big year for Ebichu! They’ve done a lot of solo works and just this year released their major debut single, ‘Kari Keiyaku no Cinderella’ in May. They’ve also released their first solo DVD, and their second single is “Go! Go! Here we Go! Rock Lee!,” the ending theme to the Naruto spinoff anime.
There are nine members in Ebichu, and since “Chuugaku” (middle school) is in their name they have a younger age range, going from 13 to 16. As expected by a Stardust group, they’ve always been a bit of an eccentric group. A good deal of their songs have been written by Hyadain (Maeyamada Kenichi) whose written a lot of Momoiro Clover’s more eccentric songs (Ikuze! Kaitou Shoujo, Santa-san, Wani to Shampoo etc.), and the eccentricity is certainly there with Ebichu. Songs like ” Oh My Ghost? ~Watashi ga Akuryou ni Natte mo~” and “The Tissue ~Tomaranai Seishun” are some of Hyadain’s best, so if you know you like his stuff then you really should be paying attention to Ebichu.
Basically, while they’re definitely not Momoiro Clover Z part two (they are very much their own group) a lot of the things that make Momoiro Clover so much fun are present in Ebichu. The high energy is there, their dances have a lot of energy, the odd/eccentric songs are there, etc. If Momoiro Clover Z is a group you like and you don’t already follow Ebichu, then you really ought to. On the other hand, if you don’t like Momoiro Clover Z, then still give Ebichu a shot because a lot of the things on the surface are a bit different, so you might be able to like Ebichu.