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The eye of the fandom : French Baguette

For this segment we’re going to highlight Keyakizaka46 fans from all around the world. The fandom is wide, with many different thoughts, opinions and feelings toward our favourite group. Because it’s important to know different opinions than ours, we will let guests have their voice heard. Today we welcome Kayseur (@kayseurounet on twitter), a French fan.

Thank you for accepting the interview. First, introduce yourself : your name (or nickname), age, status (job, student, etc)

Hello, my (internet) name’s Kayseur. I’m 22 and currently working as a freelance designer/illustrator and sometimes act as a webmaster.

Do your acquaintances know that you have idols as your hobby? What do they think of it?

Yes, my family and my close friends all know about it – actually, even my coworkers came to know it as well after a while. I mean, it’s a hard thing to hide when you have cute girls all lined up on your open space computer’s desktop everyday, or giant framed posters hanging above your bed. It’s really not anything to be ashamed of in my opinion, at least not in my country where the concept of “idols” isn’t even common knowledge. So I usually just end up telling people, when they ask what is it I like about Japan if the conversation arrives at that point, what idols are: girls singing&doing other stuff like dancing or acting; to which most of the time they react with a “oh, is that j-pop… not my thing but okay”.

So yeah, there you have it. That’s what they think of my hobby: nothing. Good for me. Even my closest friends just find it funny I like something like that but that’s literally all there is to it. Well, my best friend probably does resent me for having dropped animes to dedicate my life to idols, but hey he should’ve joined on the bandwagon! I keep telling him to watch iDOLM@STER alas to no avail…

How did you got to know Keyakizaka? Were you into other idols beforehand?

I knew idols before. I was/used to be a fan of the 48 groups, or more specifically, of NMB48 and HKT48. I was the kind of guy who loved watching weekly shows and other various webstreams such as the ones on KawaiianTV. But at some point my focus changed, getting a bit bored of those two groups’ shows I was watching (namely, HKT no Odekake, which was my primary source of attachment to the eponymous group, went downhill after a new formula), I branched out to discover new horizons. Soon after, I discovered the world of underground idols. Idols whose aesthetics or musics weren’t conventional, to put it simply, and fell in love with them.

How does that relate to Keyakizaka you ask? Simple. Keyakizaka is often known and famous for its “cool” appeal & its “anti-conformist” lyrics. That’s basically what could be found in a bunch of underground idols I was following at that time, so when I discovered Keyakizaka, already having a sweet tooth for those kind of unorthodox idol groups, there was no way I could not love them.

Keyakitte, Kakenai? Is how I first discovered them though. And, of course, Silent Majority being such a great music (& such a hit) got me very interested in the group. So yeah I’d say It’s a mix of all of those coincidences that made me develop such a great interest in Keyakizaka46.

Who is your oshimen, and why? What do you think is her main appeal? (Or are you a DD)

I’m more of a DD/hako-oshi. But, while I can’t really call them “oshi”, I do have a couple of girls I like more than the others. Them being Kobayashi Yui, Nagasawa Nanako & Uemura Rina.

Yuipon (Kobayashi Yui) seems like a very hard working girl, serious, and has a great singing voice (as well as seemingly knowing how to play guitar, but knowing how to play an instrument isn’t much of an oddity among the Keyakizaka members).

Naako (Nagasawa Nanako) is a weird girl, a bit of a clutz, and can be really funny either intentionally or not. She’s just fun.

As for Uemura Rina, she has fabulous hair and is incredibly cute. Do I need any other reason?

Have you been to concerts before? Or handshake? If yes, what was your impressions?

To a Keyakizaka concert? Not really. I saw them live for 3 songs, during the 2016’s Winter (or was it Fall?) Girls Awards event. From quite a distance. It was honestly not that enjoyable, I couldn’t see them much and the whole thing felt like it lasted 30 seconds. No regret though, at least I can say I saw them a bit. I’ve never been to a handshake event though.

(But I did go to a bunch of underground idols’ lives and handshakes’ events.)

Do you collect goods, like towel, glowstick, or cards? How much do you spend for your idol hobby in average?

I do collect goods. Mostly photocards & magazines. Sometimes other stuff like posters or, obviously, CDs. But I have no idea how much I spend on them. Probably more than I should? It honestly really depends on the month (both because of my fluctuating income & of the goods’ release schedule itself).

What’s your favourite A-side? And why?

Tough question.

My heart would vote Silent Majority, because it’s such a “nostalgic” song to me now, it’s the one that started everything, the one that ignited my passion for them, the one that got broadcast everywhere in Japan and that all the artists covered. And it’s a good song too.

My ears would however vote for Fukyouwaon. It’s a much more dynamic song, more brutal if you want. Maybe slightly overly edgy, but hey who cares. I can dance to it, that’s all I need.

But my eyes would go with Futari Saison, which, to date, had the best MV for me. A great screentime for everyone, a top-notch visual quality, the girls are smiling and you just feel good when you watch it. The song is obviously quite good too, though a teeny-weeny too gentle for me.

Where do you get your informations? Social network, video platform, magazine, others?

Social networks, mostly. Be it Twitter (my TL), Facebook (groups) or Discord (dedicated Keya servers). I used to frequent akb daily a lot, but not so much these days.

What do you think of the japanese fandom? Have you interacted with them in real life or just Social network?

No idea. I’ve honestly almost never interacted with them, neither online nor offline. I’d love to, but, first I still feel like the language barrier between the two is too thick, and secondly, I dunno, it kinda feels weird to do so. I mean, think about it, the japanese fans are living in such a different world from us. They’re in the same country as Keya. In a country where the idol culture exist. They obviously have ton more experience and such a different view of the hobby itself; for example, think about it: for a foreigner who go to a HS (even once a year), it must be an incredible event, an almost once-in-a-lifetime special occasion to meet his beloved idol, right?

But on the other hand, a japanese wota can do that all the time, with much less money involved. A simple HS is nothing *that* special for him. For us, foreigners, having met the girls in real life is a success in itself, for japanese people, it’s something that must be absolutely banal&expected if you’re a fan.

That’s why I think the international fandom and local fandom are living their hobby very differently.

What do you think of the foreign fandom? People being fans of a japanese group, completely different of their culture? Do you think Management should show interest going more global?

What should I think of them? I mean, I am part of the foreign fandom myself. And what do I think of myself? Well, I don’t know. We’re just enjoying our hobby, fanboying&fangirling over some cute idols, wasting our precious time&money on them with a smile on our face. There’s not much to think of it, we’re simply having fun.

Now as for whether management should show interest in us or not, that simply depends on how many of us there are. It seems like there are lots of South Eastern Asian who are fans of Keyakizaka, so there might be a market over there to grab, but in Europe&America? Unfortunately, no, I doubt they would gain anything by trying to appeal to us. However, they could at the very least unlock their official videos, there’s literally nothing to gain by region locking them. Adding english subtitles would also probably be a pretty cheap but neat thing to do.

So in fact yes the management could easily step up his game to go more global without investing much, but at the same time, I understand why they’re not even trying to do so. Albeit, given how K-pop became popular oversea over the last few years, there might actually be a market for J-pop as well. But hey, let’s not get our hopes up, we know it’s not happening.

Recently Hiragana and Kanji are doing more and more activities separately. What do you think of it?

I’m more than happy with it. I’ve always seen the two groups as two different entities, the reason being that the 20/21 Kanji members have always looked like a solid entity to which adding or removing (potential) hiragana members would’ve felt weird. And the way the two groups/teams have been treated always felt like they were striving to separate them entirely in terms of marketing. Getting their own tours, their own singles, and now their own TV shows… I actually think it’d be a shame if not an error to backpedal now!

That and, another reason the kanji keyakizaka girls got so popular so quickly is also thanks to the freshness they had at the beginning. But now we’re almost two-years in their lifetime as a group, and that freshness is going to start withering soon — so now’s a good time to push forward with the Hiragana girls who can inherit this “rookie” label instead.

Recently hiragana 2nd gen has debuted their activities. What are your expectation for them?

Nothing special, I think they’re all pretty interesting, but we haven’t seen them much yet. I simply hope they will be added to the regular mainline Hiragana lineups soon-ish. I do like Paripichan (Tomita Suzuka) a lot, because an idol who likes rap isn’t a common sight among mainstream idols and I think fresher personalities like that is more than welcome. And because I like idols who rap. Check out Lyrical School, Rhymeberry or Yoshida Rinne!

Recently we’ve seen Yuichanzu Wcenter for Glass o ware. What are your thoughts on changing center?

I’m all for changing center. I have no grudge against Techi, but I think there are other girls who deserve it just as much. Now, the issue is that she is the face of the group, and I fully understand why they wouldn’t be inclined on having her step down just yet. They’re trying to make Techi be the 2nd coming of Maeda Atsuko, which is alright, but as far as “cool idols” go, I think there are other members such as Shida or Risa or even Koike* who could take on the role just fine. And of course the Yuichanzu.

*I’m obviously joking about Koike

Japanese and Foreign culture diverge on some topic, like love ban rule. What is your opinion on this?

This is a difficult question to answer in a couple of words. More than agreeing or disagreeing on the love ban rule, I actually understand why it’s somewhat necessary from a japanese point of view, and why people don’t like it from a foreign point of view.

To put it simply, idols are marketed as “dream girls”, people are supposed to look up to them, literally “idolize” them so they can spend as much money as they can — not having a love ban rule, or the girls openly having a lover would ruin the idealization and purity idols are somewhat supposed to give off. And more than purity, it would ruin the feeling of an idol being here for “everyone” as her lover would always be, in the end, the one who has her; it’s kind of a weird way to put it, but I do think the inner jealousness people would feel over idols who aren’t single would weight on the sales in the long run. Japan has this different way of regarding relationships, and that’s why I think this is an answer that would require an in-depth sociological study to properly understand it and its (arguable) necessity. Another example is how most anime girls are almost always either virgin and/or singles – it doesn’t make sense from a realistic character-building point of view, but it does as a way to market her as a pure girl you “can possess” (let’s not kid ourselves here, Japan being a really sexist society). And idols are simply treated the same way.

But foreigner fans often see it as a rule that impede their freedom. Which is true. However, personally, I like to think of it differently: I don’t think the love ban rule is either good or bad, but, it does exist and disagreeing with it won’t change anything. So, you have to accept it, and any idol who enter the showbusiness world knows it — which means, the love ban rule is nothing else than another contract rule you must abide by. If you break it, it’s a breach of contract, it’s as simple as that. Yes, having a professional obligation that overlaps with your personal life might be weird for us foreigners, but look, we’re talking about Japan where people sleep at work to get the job’s done and where your job basically defines your life. (Something seen even in the language itself, where people refer to others with their titles.) So no, I don’t think it’s a strange thing at all.

Overall, What do you think makes keyakizaka different? What do you think of the current keyakizaka? Doing well or points to improve?

I’ve already answered this a couple of times, regarding what makes them different: it’s the cool attitude, their somewhat darker song identity, and freshness in the mainstream idol world.

As for points to improve, not sure. As I’ve said, I’d like a center change, but at the same time, I get why they won’t/don’t want to/or even shouldn’t. So is it really something to improve on? I doubt it. I guess, I just want them to make good music. KazeFuka was disappointing to say the least, and Glass Wo Ware wasn’t all that special neither. And its MV was ridiculously rushed and kinda vastly overfocusing Techi. So that’s where they need to step up their game.

And please stop pushing Neru.

Thank you for your time. If you have a shoutout to do, please go ahead.

Thank you for the interview. You may or may not know it already, but I’m the guy who has created https://keyakizaka46discovery.com ; a website for beginners in the idol world who’d like to discovery Keyakizaka46. If you know any friend who’d like to get into them, please give them that url! We also have a forum over there and a discord server, so don’t hesitate to join if you want some fan interactions.

I also have an idol-based translation blog available at http://9917km.wordpress.com although it’s been a while since I last updated it.