“You are fan of the 48group? Great! Who is your oshimen?”
This is the probably the most common phrase you get when 2 fans meet for the first time. 推しメン “Oshimen” (”oshi”, push in japanese, “men”, member) is the member you like the most. In kpop vocabulary, it is close to “bias”. Having a favorite is not intellect property of AKB at all, but the 48group managed to build all his success in the idol&fan relationship , in which case “having a favourite” went to the next level of involvement.
You just have to look at the idol world : handshake ( you directly talk to your oshimen), meet and greet, 2shots, center position that heavily highlight the member, goodies with your favorite member name on it ( towel, photobook, key ring…). In short, everything is set in motion to make your bond with the idol you support special.
Why oshimen is particular? It’s not uncommon to get a liking to multiple members. Well, what i believe is that your oshimen define you as a fan. It’s your fan identity. By telling who your oshimen is, it is almost like you share a part of you : what you like/preference, values you believe in… It also gives you a sense of belonging. The group of this member fan. Thanks to that, fan committee have developed over time. Fans are tied together thanks to their shared enthusiasm and support of a same member. It can also takes a larger scale with a sense of belonging in a group.
This is also a way to differentiate with others. You are known as “this member fan”. It’s a way to exist in this fandom. For example, if you support someone less popular, you will be better remembered compared to thousands of Mayu fans. This deep wish to “exist” isn’t exactly abstract; keep in mind that some fans spend 50~ tickets to have conversation with their oshimen. They want to be remembered by her. They want to exist.
“In a fan gathering, you proudly support your oshimen. This is also what makes you different from other fans.”
推し変. “oshihen” ( oshi, to support, hen, change). Simply put, the fact to change your oshimen. Hard to say if it’s something common or not. But i’m convinced it is something difficult to do. Because it implies to “break” the bond that linked you with your former oshimen. That something has changed. Oshihen is like losing your way.
The more you get involved with someone, the harder it is to sever ties. You develop a sense of guiltiness thinking of oshihening, because you’re turning back on something that was once your pride. To have people judge you for this is irrelevant ( because it doesn’t matter what people thinks of you, they don’t know you), but losing your identity is (and it is something you ask yourself). You will feel bad because oshihening implies challenging your love for this member. And no one likes to feel like an half-assed fan. “did i really like her?”
“i’m not fake”. There will always be resilience. You just don’t want people to tell you “you don’t love her anymore?”. In any case oshihening is complicated because people are confused between “your most dedication” and “i’m now bored of her”. But the more people tells you that, the more you actually believe in those words.
Oshihen has turned into a running joke in the fandom, same as DD (daredemo daisuki). When you speak out as liking many members, people end up saying “you might just be a DD” to tease you. To be DD means to have no oshimen, and that means you are not a true fan (because true fans have an oshimen). And if you read the text above, you now understand that it is not about being a true fan, but having a fan identity. If you Oshihen, it also implies you don’t have an oshimen because if she really was, you wouldn’t have oshihen in the first place.
“In general, all entertainment has to fulfill the audience’s imagination. And for a creator, too, having a resource like Hirate to use makes the breadth of imagination even greater. I think she has that kind of appeal. “ – Aki-P
To wrap it up and make things clearer, let’s take an example. Mine. My oshimen has been Tomonaga Mio for 4 years. I started as a fan the same time HKT debuted, and what i wanted was “idol you can see grow”. Like many others, Mio was cute, lively and willing to become a great idol and inspire people. I decided to support her in her goal. To have listened to all their single, read most of G+, did handshake and went to concert, met fellow fans with the same oshimen and enthusiasm for idols, an unbreakable bond has been created. Something that can never be replaced.
I had pride being a Mio and HKT oshi. On Stage48 ( biggest 48group foreign community), there was only few being the same, and people remembered me. When people asked question about HKT, “you should ask him, he knows about it”, thanks to those questions i knew where i belong. Still i was questioning myself. This isn’t the real definition of oshimen. Oshimen shouldn’t be “the member that defines you” but “the member you like the most”.
To oshihen is not questioning your love for a member but to determine who is the member that inspire you the most. This is something that i finally realized when reading the quote from Aki-p. While Mio’s Social network output and character is very predictable, Hirate Yurina introduced herself as an idol that i absolutely couldn’t fathom. Each of her appearance in media was bringing something new, and i’m always thrilled to see what happens next. Your oshimen is someone that triggers you an emotion. “How far she can go? I want to know more about her” is an emotion i feel when following Techi.
In Futari saison ( 3rd single of Keyakizaka46), the song explains that instead of mourning of a loss ( in that case, the rupture), you should express the gratitude of the time spent together, then you can move on and cherish the present time. I got rid of this guilt of oshihening because i don’t reject this aspect of mine, conversely i am full of gratitude.
Mio and Yurina will be, my identity.