Category Archives: Seiyuu, Idol, Pop

Okui Masami 25th & HAPPY END Live “Celebration”

Okui Masami is a major figure in the anisong industry, mainly because she was one of the backbone persons during the early King Record/Starchild days. She is directly the senpai of Mizuki Nana and she has kind of cemented things once she joined JAM Project. She also started her own record label and done various other things behind the scene over the years. Today she still produces, writes music and provide chorus and “lead tracks” for various anisong, outside of her solo and JAM Project work. Well, it would be better said that she has done a lot over the years, and nowadays she has largely moved onto doing JAM Project type stuff.

As I say this, even while as a member of JAM Project, she has a lot of solo activity. Or rather, as a fan of her since her pre-JAM days, her solo activities never really stopped cold, in my opinion. It definitely has slowed down, she’s taken breaks, but unlike many of the other old guys in JAM Project, she has a full original solo album out, which is quite rare. Well, I say old guys, but she turned 50 years old this year, so just about everybody in that group is getting up there.

A solo live is also quite rare for Okui Masami nowadays. She no longer tours, and most appearances are in festival style. This live is the first solo live she has had in two and a half years, or since 2016 March. Why not go, I thought.

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IM@S MUSIC ON THE RADIO & The End of IDOLM@STER STATION

The long running IDOLM@STER mainline seiyuu radio program, IDOLM@STER STATION, has ended this week with a farewell live stream on Nico. To be very technical and fair, it never ran that long, as the weekly program would change cast periodically and rebrand itself slightly (like, IDOLM@STER STATION!!+). It was originally the IDOLM@STER Radio which morphed into this program as other weekly streams started, in 2009. Today, there are 5 weekly broadcasts for the franchise, covering the different sections. The name perhaps more so refers to the program concept that spawned a series of its own spinoff media products, such as all the radio cover songs, the radio original music, and the handful of live shows they put on. The Aisute weeklies would feature some segments that involved characters acting out viewer-submitted scenarios often (a characteristic in other IM@S radios today as well) and other more seiyuu radio-style segments. But if you were just counting the brand, the show falls a bit short of its 10th year! That’s very long for a tie-in seiyuu radio.

Aisute ending means the main 765Pro franchise no longer has a seiyuu-focused radio. In its stead, IDOLM@STER MUSIC ON THE RADIO takes its airing spot (really, it’s produced by the same Nippon Columbia crew that produced Aisute, and it takes over Aisute’s Nico channel) and is going to be a music-oriented program. Its main host is Numakura Manami, with a co-host rotating probably every 4 weeks. The first co-host is Takahashi Rie. For sanity’s sake I’ll call the program MOR for short (based on the official hashtag #アイマスMOR).

Over the long 9 years of Aisute, there were a pretty overt effort to interview Columbia composers who worked on the music, especially the stuff that graced the later Playstation games. And it makes a lot of sense–music is arguably the most noteworthy and radio-worthy thing that IDOLM@STER generally offers. Cinderella Girls, Million Live, SideM and even Shiny Colors are churning out many songs every year. A lot of it is from Lantis, which naturally doesn’t get as much coverage on a Columbia program focused on the original 765Pro, but Aisute always had crossover coverage with guests from the other branches (at least more than a few Million and Cinderella guests).

What has been left behind with the departure of Aisute is still pretty regrettable–it was almost its own thing during the peak years, and maybe MOR can get its own live show. It certainly will be more cross-franchise than before, so we will see how things swing on a month-to-month basis.

Overall, it is probably overall a good thing that there is now a show to highlight the stories and personalities behind the music. MOR should be a good time and generally this is a positive vibe going forward. Hosted by two cast members, MOR should also remain fun and neta-heavy enough for the usual and core listener types into seiyuu radio-type programs. Two-personality shows dominate this landscape anyway.

PS. Wish they’ll cover some Aisute music down the road!


Is Revue Starlight Idol Anime? Depends on Who You Ask?

If you ask me, there is no such thing as idol anime. OK, maybe there are anime about idols, but that’s not what idols are about.

Idol anime is the new slice-of-life. Which is to say, English language fans can call things however they want, but they are probably wrong when they do.

Basically, it comes in the form of the media-mix IP Love Live, which spawns a bunch of anime, manga, games, music, stage events, whatever. That is par for the course for a lot of the media-mix IPs dating back to the late 90s or 00s. What’s unique about Love Live and its ilk is that they are focused on doing stage shows and live events as a driver for the IP. It becomes a way to reward and reinforce fandom this day and age, it is more engaging to fans (and in ad terms, it drives fans with massively high engagement). Also otaku kids in Japan these days are more about social and networking (and I see that overseas too). Live events themselves also have a lot of pluses in this day and age of seiyuu doing multiple roles besides voice acting, but that’s besides the point.

Invariably most if not all of these “idol” IPs engage its characters primarily, as my non-anime-nerdy friend would say, is like how a professional wrestler (in the WWE and NJPW sense) are like characters performed by the wrestlers, who would have these matches that are dramatic performances and deliver what passes for content to the audience and fans. I don’t know why people think Love Live was the first “idol” thing or the last whatever it was before, but there was definitely some kind of awakening in the west where people “get it.”

The popularity of Love Live and the fact that the IP bills itself as an idol story probably coined the term as such. But the mistake people make is to think Love Live is an “idol” thing. It isn’t. It’s just another media mix story with people who want to be “school idols”–just like how the characters in GaruPan are practitioners of “tankery.” It’s a made up thing that is as close to real idols as just teenage pretty people singing and dancing, trying to make it in some contextually fictional entertainment setting. SIF and Love Live are a work of fiction. But somehow people clang on to this “idol” idea and won’t let it go.

Part of it is obviously that Japanese idols are a real thing, and it is a cultural phenomenon. But I see more and more people who don’t understand the difference between the fiction and the reality. Just like how people apply the term “slice-of-life” to, say, Wake Up, Girls! or something dumb. At least in that verbiage misuse, it’s a made-up-term associated with nothing now being associated with something. “Idol anime” and “idol” generally refer to actual existing things, now being used by ignorant anime nerds to associate with totally different things, regardless of how relevant they are.

You can see this person who complain how calling “Revue Starlight” is misleading people, and it’s obvious. I wouldn’t call Utena or Sakura Taisen an idol anime either, but they are quite similar as Revue Starlight. (Would someone call Girls und Panzer a war anime? Or a tank anime? I guess it’s an anime about tanks, more precisely, an anime about fictional tanks?) But the real injustice here is that it pollutes the discourse on actual Japanese idols, as they are nothing at all like the stories portrayed in Love Live, IDOLM@STER or obviously Revue.

This is also how you get Aqours fans telling their management to not “overwork” the idols. [Which is, by the way, the most sanctimonious, paternal bullshit I’ve ever seen in western seiota fandom, and I’ve been in this fandom since the 90s.] This is not that different than someone who doesn’t know about actual tanks, and thought Tankery exists and a team of 5 people can service 7 tanks in a week, and it’s okay to shoot tank shells at each other???

I don’t know, a lot of this fictional stuff (eg., anime) are only meaningful if you have enough real life experience to contextualize the content. It is real sad if you don’t… It’s like people learning about Japanese idols from anime, when there are tons of real people who are actually in the scene they could read from. It’s fine as a gateway thing but it cannot be your only thing.

PS. I have maybe like 3-4 different draft ideas on this topic in this year alone. It’s really bothering me because while it’s good the Love Live’s popularity is a tide that raises all boats, so to speak, it also brings on a lot of people who are just plainly clueless about idol fandom, culture, and the things those idol IPs try to evoke, and there are not enough school teachers to feed the hungry masses on the Reddits of everywhichwhere. It’s as if only youtubers are their teachers on this stuff, LOL.


Aniuta: One Year After

With the US version of the service launching eminent, here’s what I took away as a casual user of the JP version of the service Aniuta. The short of it is, the library is second. The ease of access and marketing are the top reasons why I pay for it.

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Anisong World Matsuri 2018: Japan Kawaii Live

Anisong World Matsuri Japan Kawaii Live at Anime Expo 2018 is one of the three AWM shows at Anime Expo this year. It follows from last year’s AWM which stopped at AX, Bilibili Macro Link in Shanghai, and Otakon 2017. This year there is no Otakon stop, and AX gets 3 shows instead of just two.

With July Fourth landing on a Wednesday, JKL somehow gets pushed in to Saturday. Conveniently, Aqours solo AWM show can be put on that Wednesday since the group has to travel back to Japan for the final stop on the Aqours 3rd tour, the same week. Since JKL is going to employ a bunch of seiyuu (i☆Ris and Cinderella Girls), it made sense to have the show on a weekend so the troops can fly back Sunday.

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