Tokyo Idol Festival 2013: The Acts part 6

Caramel ☆ Ribbon

No, not the Starbucks Frappuccino. This is a three member idol group apparently decided by the president of Tower Records to be one of the idol groups to make it big this year. They are a part of the “Esse Academy,” but are the most popular group to hail from it. They’re based in Osaka, as well. The girls (Amane, Aoi and Seina) are 14-15 years old. Since last year’s Tokyo Idol Festival, they’ve put out one new single, ‘Yakusoku no Basho,’ so the group currently has three singles. They recently signed to T-Palatte records, so while they have been a pretty small group, they might start doing things like PVs and the like soon.

The thing about Caramel Ribbon is that there really are no gimmicks about the group; they’re three cute girls who perform pretty well. So if you want something different or exciting, you might not get it from Caramel Ribbon. If you want a solid indie group to support, well there are definitely worse groups to give your support.

Personally, while I definitely see why some people are very much into them, they don’t really grab me. They almost feel like relics of an older era of idols; there’s nothing bad about the group at all, but not much that’s really noteworthy. From what I’ve seen they’ve definitely improved since last year, and their vocals are definitely solid. The music just hasn’t grabbed me, and the group itself is slightly generic.

That said, while I personally don’t have an interest, I don’t think they’re a bad group at all. So I’d suggest checking them out to see if they interest you at all.

GAL♡DOLL

Out of all the idol groups I covered last year, one of the songs that really stuck with me was Gal Doll’s “Loco Girl ~ Agepoyo Summer~.” It’s a really catchy/fun song that I actually listen to a fair amount.

GAL DOLL is a unit from the Gal culture. Gal (or Gyaru) fashion is a style that features bleached/dyed hair, lots of makeup, and so on. The history of gyaru culture as a movement is pretty interesting, and while I’m not going to go into all of it here, I encourage you to check it out.

GAL DOLL is thus a gal-inspired unit that is located in Shibuya, one of the fashion centers of Japan. Last year they had three members, but it looks like one of them (Ryoka) left, so there’s only Juno and Nanaho. They were formed by the popular magazine ‘egg’, and are based as a Shibuya girls unit, promoting Shibuya fashion. They’ve performed at the Campus Summit event in the past, an event organized by student clubs surrounding gyaru culture. So Gal Doll really seems to be aiming to be a fashion-centric unit, combining the world of gyaru fashion and idol music. Not a bad idea, especially since gal idols are kind of rare.

Much like last year, it’s hard to find out everything about them.Their website’s a bit tricky. However, it’s good to see them moving forward and releasing new stuff; Juno and Nanoha have released another single/song, “We Can’t Stop It.” It’s not quite as fun as Loco Girl, as it’s more of a slower tempo song. The reason I listen to Loco Girl so much is because it’s a fun, upbeat Eurobeat/Para para song. It’s a bit disappointing to see this change, but it’s certainly different. A lot of what was fun about Gal Doll just isn’t there in We Can’t Stop It, which is a shame.

Still, I’d check both of these out especially if you’re interested in the Japanese fashion world at all.

Kurikamaki

How far Kurikamaki has come in the past year! When I profiled them last year, they were a pretty late entry, and had only just put up their intro post on their ameblo. Now they have a full website and seem to be gaining more and more recognition. Everything, from their profile picture to their site, is a lot more professional, so they’ve definitely worked hard to improve. I’m kind of proud of them!

Kurikamaki is a two girl unit formed of Kurika and Maki (hence the names). They’re pretty self-formed, mostly because Kurika already DJed before the unit. Their thing is that they are a singing, dancing DJ unit. They formed in January of 2012, but as of last TIF they hadn’t done all that much, at least things that I could find online. However, this past January (2013) they put out their first original song, Analog ma Girl.

The fun thing about a DJ centric unit is that you get to hear a lot of songs you already like. Here’s a brief example of the two of them doing a show with songs that I’m sure are familiar to a lot of you:

I really like these girls. Because they’re a very self-started group, both girls seem very much into it, and are a lot of fun to watch grow. Both girls are fairly active on twitter, so that’s a really good way of following them.

I’m just pretty fond of these girls. Their concept makes them really unique, and they do well with it with their energy and fun. It’s been great watching them get some notice, and I hope they continue to do well!

KNU

I remember KNU all too well. For some reason, I tend to remember the pretty exaggerated fanservice groups. Not sure what this says about me and the groups.

KNU = Kyonyuu = huge breasts. So the name right off the bat tells you that this group is about breasts. They were originally KNU23, but dropped the 23 to try and drop the association of being an AKB knockoff group. Mentioned in THIS Kotaku article, all the girls have a DDD or higher bra size on the Japanese bra sizing (though that doesn’t say all THAT much about the actual size of the breasts, but bra sizing is another topic for another time).

This group has also grown considerably since last year. I mentioned that they had put out a couple of releases and didn’t have a proper website; they’ve been cranking out singles lately, recently putting out their 6th and 7th singles. They’ve put out a mini album, and have 5 live DVDs. They’re doing their second solo concert soon. I don’t know how well this group sells, but they’ve been doing a lot of stuff lately which indicates they have a fanbase. They also have these shirts that I will put a picture of without comment (though I do want to see a wota in one).

Honestly, I have a hard time finding much to like about KNU. Quoting my post from last year “they are a fanservice unit that doesn’t carry the “star power” of Ebisu Muscats or the utter ridiculousness of Sexy All Sisters.” I have a tolerance level for fanservice; I honestly don’t mind gravure work, for the most part, and I’m able to enjoy watching performances of the ridiculous fanservice groups like Sexy All Sisters. But KNU doesn’t have the fun level of those groups, but is SO focused on breasts, completely objectifying the women involved. The covers of their singles are just shots of breasts. Their T-Shirts are breasts. Their logo’s breasts. Essentially, the only reason these girls were picked is because they have large breasts. I have a high level of tolerance for fanservice, but this just goes too far in my opinion.

The only way I can recommend this group is if you want so-so idol performances done by women with large breasts.

Goto Mariko

This is another act I don’t know I would classify so much as an idol. Goto Mariko, an Osaka-born singer, joined the rock group Midori as vocalist and guitarist. The group broke up in 2010, and she has since started as a solo act. Last July she put out her first solo album, 299792458. She’s also starting to act.

Since the first track on her album is appropriately titled “Hardcore Life” and the t-shirts on her website have “HARDCORE” on them, I’m assuming she’s not going for the cutesy idol act. Like I said before, she’s not really what I’d consider an idol, and checking her website shows that this is really the only idol show she’s doing. However, if you like J-Rock as well as idols, you may want to follow her.

The one song I’ve heard so far, M@HφU☆少女 is less hardcore than I may have expected and it’s very much pop-rock as opposed to hard rock. It’s definitely not a bad song, and I quite like the instrumentation. I don’t know if it’s something I’d listen to all the time, but it’s not bad at all. Her voice is very high-pitched and cute; at points, strangely, it reminds me a teeny bit of Hirano Aya.

If you want a rock-musician to follow, you could do worse. Personally I prefer Oomori Seiko (who I covered last time), and I’d recommend Seiko over Mariko. However, if you can follow two, you should definitely check out Goto Mariko.

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