Tokyo Idol Festival 2013: The Acts part 7

Ayaman Japan

Ahh, Ayaman Japan, we meet again. This picture may look innocent, but Ayaman Japan’s performance at last year’s TIF club night was probably the most explicit NSFW performance at the show.

Ayaman Japan is a unit of around 100 girls, who perform at party events only if you know a member. All the members were brought in by the Ayaman director, who is the girl in the center of the above picture. In the past, only three girls did media appearances, but now there are five in that picture.

While Ayaman Japan does those party appearances as their primary thing, they’ve released three singles and one album, in 2010 and 2011. They haven’t put out anything recent since last year’s TIF, but perhaps the promo image suggests they’ll put out something else? A lot of their songs seem to be almost playing off the idol genre, singing cutesy-sounding songs while insinuating lewd acts. Their third single is clearly a parody of AKB48’s Heavy Rotation, for example. While they’ve done more songs, their first single ‘Poi Poi Poi Popoi Poi Popiii’ is their most famous song.

I personally find them pretty amusing. They’re not trying to be taken seriously as idols, but they’re poking fun at the genre and also subverting traditional gender roles, which I’m all for. For everyone who might be worried about Ayaman performing with younger idols, last year they pretty much just showed up at the late night adult-themed show, so no worries.

Izukoneko

Izukoneko is a soloist, who is described as an “idol-like artist,” meaning that she’s categorized more as a solo artist rather than an idol. Which I would say is pretty accurate, given the fact she doesn’t sound much like a traditional idol.

Since last year she’s been a fairly busy singer. Last August she put out her first album, she put out a new EP this January and in March she put out a live CD. Last year for my TIF post I noted that Izukoneko came across much better live than in her PVs, so this seems like a really good move.

I like Izukoneko a lot, but I think whether you’ll like her or not depends a lot on what kind of music you like. Did you like the music that I posted from Oomori Seiko? If so, you may like Izukoneko. She has a very different voice from Seiko, but there is definitely a really great indie sensibility to Izukoneko’s style and music. Live, Izukoneko shines. She looks really confident on stage, has a lovely voice, and even leads the audience in an Izukoneko-version of the standard wota MIX.

So if you want some music that’s not your usual idol music from an energetic and strong performer, give Izukoneko a try.

X21

?

No, it’s not the X-Men character (I’m so sorry, I really had to make that joke). These are 21 girls (average age of 14) who were finalists for the 13th National Beautiful Girl contest, a fairly well-known pageant. So if you like girls who are considered to be beautiful by Japanese standards, you might want to take a look at this group. These girls debuted as a group in January, and since then have started getting radio and television appearances already.

Since they’re so new, there’s not all that much about them. Their website already has a good deal of information; profiles of the girls, details about various events they’ve had, fanclub information, etc. They’ve clearly gotten this group up and running really quickly, so it’ll be interesting to see how far they can go. The leader, Yoshimoto Miyu, has already released her first photobook, so it seems like they’re really going to focus on the gravure/photobook route, which makes sense considering they’re a group centered around a beauty pageant.

They don’t seem to have any singles out or any performances online (from what I could find), so if music and performance is important to you you might want to wait on X21. However, if what you want is adorable girls being adorable, X21 is definitely an option.

Kotone Mai

Mainya! Kotone Mai has been an idol since 2009 when she moved alone to Tokyo, and is one of the most hard-working girls in the business. She’s performs about 300 times a year, which is something that has drawn in fans. She’s put out six singles, and since the last TIF she’s put out her first album. In August, she’s making her major label debut with her single ‘Bang Bang Koteki Samba’, which is a really excellent move for Mainya. I admire her work ethic, so I’m excited for her. A famous comedian, Gekidan Hitori, has said Mai is going to become popular soon. This news about her major debut shows that she’s working towards that goal.

If what you value is work ethic and idols who love idols, Mainya might be your girl. If vocal strength is what you value, you may want to look elsewhere. Mainya has a high pitched voice that could be polarizing to many. However, she’s improved a great deal and has nice vocal control. In addition, she’s a great performer, considering all the practice she gets, so if stage presence matters to you, you might want to check out Mainya.

All in all I’m very happy for her major debut, and I want to follow her more in the future! Her work ethic and enthusiasm for what she does is inspiring, and is definitely worthy of attention.

Sakura Gakuin

Here’s a group many of you should know! While many people know Sakura Gakuin as “that one group Babymetal came from,” they’re a really strong group you should be paying attention to, metal subunit or no.

Sakura Gakuin is a middle-school themed group, with their albums featuring their many subgroups as “clubs.” There’s Babymetal, there’s the science club, the cooking club, the tennis club, etc. Every year they release a new album in the spring, and because of these subgroups the albums are varied in style.

The middle school theme goes beyond these clubs; they’re a group that enforces graduations when the girls leave middle school. This means popular members like Babymetal frontgirl Nakamoto Suzuka have to graduate once they get to be too old. Personally I’m not very fond of this rule; my favorite member in Babymetal and Sakura Gakuin is Mizuno Yui, and when she graduates I don’t know how interested I’ll stay in Sakura Gakuin. However, for those who prefer younger idols and like the middle school image of Sakura Gakuin, it’s a good thing. So really, it’s up for you to decide whether you like this system or not.

Regardless of this system, Sakura Gakuin is a very good group. The members are entertaining and talented, and Sakura Gakuin’s music is very nice. I’m particularly fond of Verishuvi and Wonderful Journey, but their latest single was My Graduation Toss, a rock-inspired song. I honestly think the only thing holding me back from being a more serious fan of the group is the enforced graduation rule. However, if you can get past that, you really ought to be following Sakura Gakuin.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.