Happy TIFriday! Where I cover the acts of this year’s Tokyo Idol Festival!
Tokyo Cheer2 Party
Fun Happy Disco fact! This year I graduated from college. To graduate with honors I had to write a final thesis, and I ended up writing about idols because I was a film/media studies major and a Japanese minor. My thesis was about Japan’s national identities and how it’s reflected through Japan’s popular idol groups. As such, I focused mostly on the popular groups. However, I mentioned Tokyo Cheer2 Party.
The reason I did this was because, back in 2011, after the earthquake, Tokyo Cheer2 Party stood outside train stations, encouraging workers. While other idol groups gave back, Tokyo Cheer2 Party did all they could to give back as an indie idol group, which I think is pretty neat.
Tokyo Cheer2 Party was formed in 2010, starting with 10 members but now they have 17. They put out four indies singles (including one called Happy Happy, which I like to see at Happy Disco) and an album. This year they made their major debut with Gamushara Spirits, which is huge for a group, so congrats to Tokyo Cheer2 Party! The last time I really seriously looked into them was around 2011 (and doing brief research for my thesis), but it’s great to see a group work their way up. From looking at their site and the Japanese wiki it seems they do a lot of live events and things, so even though they haven’t been very visible to me they’ve certainly done a lot.
Personally, while I think they’re cute, energetic and fun, Gamushara Spirits isn’t my favorite. It’s kind of a typical idol song, but isn’t really energetic enough for this group, and it’s not quite catchy enough for what they’re going for. It shows off how fun the members are, and it’s not certainly a bad song by any means, but it’s just not quite something I’d listen to on a regular basis. However, I quite like Happy Happy; it has a funky beat, and still is very cute.
The group itself is really energetic and cute, and well-deserving of their major debut. Glad to see them doing so well!
Another idol group that made their major debut this year! Doll Elements is a four member unit formed in 2011, and are a sister unit to Lovely Doll. They had 2 indies singles, have put out one major single (Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu) and they’re set to release another single in October (Kimi no koto Amaritai!). Their theme word is “transformation” (“Henshin!”) and basically their goal is to transform into cute, popular idols. Seems like the goal of a lot of groups, but hey not every group is going to have a strange goal (a la Tsuribit).
In the Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu PV, you see the girls dressed down and made up (I’m assuming that’s the transformation) and honestly, I like them better with their natural look. All of the girls are really pretty with more natural make-up on, and while I appreciate the sentiment of the group I really don’t think any major transformation is needed for these girls to be popular. And at first this song didn’t appeal to me, but it’s slowly grown on me where I really like the chorus a lot. The girls are all really cute and charismatic, and I feel drawn to them when they’re dancing.
I doubt this will be a huge life-changing group, but I definitely like all the members and Kimi no Heart ni Tokihanatsu is a pretty nice song. I’m excited to see where they go from here!
Tochiotome25 has a strange goal, or at least a strange way of phrasing it. Formed in 2010 as a group based in Tochigi Prefecture, their goal is to be a “glocal” group; basically, combining “global” and “local.” So their goal is to remember their roots as being a Tochigi idol group, but to take this on a global level.
So far Tochiotome has released three singles; Tochiotome25 no Theme, Ichigo Hakase and GYO-ZA Party. There are six official members and four trainees. I have to say, I really like them. While they’re not the best songs out there, their singles are pleasant to listen to and I really enjoy Ichigo Hakase in particular. I personally really like Yayoi, who is the high-energy member of the group. She’s fantastic, but the rest of the members are cute as well. One of the things I love about following small indie groups is that a lot of the girls are really happy just being idols, and I get that here.
I wrote a little bit about the whole local vs national idol thing on Pure Idol Heart HERE
. However, I think that Tochiotome’s goal is a really interesting one that’s corresponding to a national Japanese trend going on right now.
I really like this group. I know I like most of the acts at TIF (that’s because they’re all so good!!), but Tochiotome25’s members are all energetic and happy, the music is really nice, and I really enjoy their PVs. I really think this group has a lot of potential, so you should definitely check them out!
Dream5 has one of the most interesting line-ups of the TIF acts. There are two main singers and three dancers, and one of these dancers, Akira, is male. Mixed-gender groups are fairly rare (the only group I can think of that could be considered an idol group with men and women is AAA), so it’s interesting to see one perform at TIF!
Dream5 was formed in 2009 on the TV program ‘Tensai terebikun MAX,” and prides themselves on being a dance and vocal unit that’s popular with younger children and families (I’m assuming this means as opposed to older wota). So far they’ve put out 11 singles (the most recent being “We are Dreamer”) and two mini-albums, so they’ve been a fairly active group. They put out their stuff under Avex trax, so that kind of shows you what they’re aiming for.
Admittedly, the one reason I haven’t really looked much into this group is the male member. I know there are four girls, but I have zero interest in male idol acts (I just don’t care about Johnny’s groups at all). While I’ve been curious as to how the group works, I just didn’t care to look into it.
And now I don’t really know how I feel. Watching the group I definitely like Akira; he seems energetic and happy, and is a good dancer, but not hearing him sing makes it feel almost gimmicky. If it was a group like AAA where there were both male and female voices and dancing, it would make a lot more sense to me, but here it just feels a bit weird. I do like the music, though, and there is a really great production value (as expected by an Avex group). I’m not quite sure if I’ll ever be a huge Dream5 fan like others, but I can definitely see why they’re such a popular and well-loved group.
Dorothy Little Happy
Morning Musume fans should be familiar with Dorothy Little Happy; this is the group that Ishida Ayumi was a back dancer for before she joined MM! Dorothy Little Happy has been an indie group for a while, and made their indies debut, Jump, in 2010. In 2011, they made their major debut with Avex Trax, which is a great move for them. They’re a local group in Sendai with five members. One of the most interesting choices the group made was doing a collab single with BiS; since Dorothy Little Happy is a very cute unit, this seemed like a very unusual collaboration. However, Dorothy Little Happy does have a bit of a rock sensibility to them, which makes the BiS collaboration make a little more sense.
Dorothy from their name comes from the Wizard of Oz, and while I don’t necessarily see the influence, it’s a fun fact about them.
Honestly, this is a group I’ve wanted to get into but just can’t. Their music is pretty good, they’re good dancers/performers, and they seem like a really interesting group, especially with things like their collaboration with BiS. Demo Sayonara is a really good song, by the way, and one you should check out. Perhaps it’s the Avex influence (for whatever reason Avex groups just don’t appeal to me), but I don’t follow Dorothy Little Happy all that much. However, that shouldn’t stop you, and I can definitely see why people might like DLH. So if you like dance/vocal units and dig Avex, check out Dorothy Little Happy.