I recently got the female idol issue of anan in the mail. While I was initially excited because Kanna from Rev.From DVL is on the cover (even though she’s not even my rev.From DVL favorite) and it looked like it was writing about a variety of idols, this magazine has been even more interesting.
anan is a Japanese women’s magazine aimed at women in their 20s; it’s not obviously for teens. So in doing this special issue about female idols, this magazine interested me for a couple of reasons.
1. A women’s magazine is doing a whole issue about female idols, which is not the demographic typically associated with idol fandom.
2. The magazine notably doesn’t talk much about AKB48 or Momoiro Clover Z.
This isn’t to say that AKB and MomoCLo are ignored; they are absolutely mentioned. But these mentions are more in the context of other groups, rather than the other way around. The acts that get big features are Kanna (though I wish more focus was on rev!), Morning Musume, E-Girls, Tokyo Girls’ Style, Babymetal, etc. These aren’t small groups, mind you, but it’s interesting that this magazine seemed to want to go for introducing idols to this group, rather than talking about groups that the demographic already likely knows.
There were other interesting aspects of the magazine, as well. One thing I found interesting was how the majority of the magazine was taken up by idols. There were the regular magazine sections near the end, but this magazine was taken up by idols; it wasn’t just an article or a feature. I also thought it was interesting that they clearly seemed to be trying to teach their audience about idols. There’s a section in the middle that has a map of the various idol groups and their relations to one another, a glossary of phrases, and so on. The magazine also didn’t shy away from the indie side of the spectrum; there’s a section that does small introductions on groups that didn’t get a larger feature, and groups like X21 and Sanmyu~ got a chance to shine.
Really, I think this is one of the biggest signs that idol culture has become a thing in Japan, beyond AKB48 and beyond who are traditionally considered to be wota. This magazine is proof that there’s an interest at the very least in learning more about idols, and that idol culture in itself has hit the mainstream. AKB and MomoClo are still by far the biggest players, for sure, but this shows that this idol phenomenon has reached beyond the male wota audience that most people tend to associate with idol fandom.
Is the audience 50-50 men and women? Probably not, especially for the tiny indie groups. Is every aspect of idol culture going to be accepted by the mainstream? Probably not. That said, this is a step, and a big one at that. This is the type of thing that those of us who love idol groups should be excited for.