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The eye of the fandom : Busy Busy Hong Kong

Today we have a chinese fan (his twitter is @huijeff) who has been kind enough to give his thoughts on the group. Chinese fandom has been famous for being very active in the 48group, for example it was said they were the main factor of mayu win in 48group sousenkyo. Even though they are considered foreign fandom, it’s safe to say they are a fandom on their own. What is their mindset about keyakizaka?

First, introduce yourself : your name (or nickname), age, status (job, student, etc)

Hi there, My name is Jeff. I am 22 and I am currently working as a computer and STEM instructor.

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

Yes, my family and everyone in my close circle of friends all know about this hobby of mine. To my surprise, they don’t make a big deal out of it. My family did not mind at all that I have posters, magazines, phone wallpapers and all kinds of goodies around the house. It’s to the point that they would encourage me to buy goods whenever I go japan.
My friends don’t make a big deal out of it either. I would show them to try to get them interested and every now and then there is a member they find cute and would learn a bit more but it never really gets far for them. Funny thing is a few of them are quite in to idolmaster but they claim 3d girls are just not good as 2d lol.

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

How I got to know and follow Keyakizaka is pretty interest (to me at least). I followed plenty of Idol groups since around 2012, namely Momusu and gradually AKB48 groups. Around 3 years ago many of my oshis left their groups and with university work getting intense, I almost completely stopped following idols. During those times, the first few Keyaki singles came out and I’ll only listen to their songs and not really dig any deeper since I had no time and that big of an interest.

Around half a year ago, I was on a trip to japan by sheer coincidence, a handful of members were shooting one of the KazeFuka DVD special at the same place I was visiting that day. At the time I had a hunch they were keyaki members but didn’t actually know. But seeing them in real life left an impact and got me curious again to the point I started searching around and started to play Keyakise and started to know the members. When KazeFuka came out and I bought one out of curiosity. I was digging the song but by another coincidence, I bought the version that had the footage of the day I saw them filming. And I guess since then I’ve gotten into the group and followed them.

Who is your oshimen, and why? What do you think is her main appeal? (Or are you a DD)
I would say I’m quite a DD. I do have a few that I pay attention to more than some others so I guess I can say Imaizumi Yui, and Shida Manaka are my Oshis.

I know I am a sucker for two things, girls that look good with short hair and has smile that can melt your heart and even though a handful of members have that now, they stand out amongst the rest for me.

Zumiko bright smile is a killer. Knowing she has been out for a long time and seeing her smile and give her all singing and performing with the group after returning is such a positive sight to see.

Manaka left an impact when I saw her in person in the filming I mentioned about. The gap between her being cool and with that unique aura of hers and when she smiles and burst out laughing just gets me.

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

No and no…Never got that chance to but hey, with luck with them, maybe someday I’ll get a chance to haha.

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

I do but with the limited access to Keyaki goods overseas except for the CDs and magazines, I can only rely on whenever I go japan to get goods. In my recent trip I have started to collect photos and t-shirt that I can find but otherwise It’s mainly CDs and magazines for me.

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

Don’t think anyone can have an easy time with this question. Each single has their own flavor to it that it’s really hard for me to call a favorite. I literally will never skip their songs when i play by shuffle playlist.

Fukyowaon might be what I would say if I really really have to choose. It’s such a powerful song that gets me pumped for whatever I’m doing.

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

Social network mostly. Social media with people or pages that post and translates things related to them. I would say I’m still relatively new to the fandom so would definitely lookout for more sources for info.

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

I don’t have much idea personally. Never properly interacted with them. I had japanese fans tried to start a conversation when I’m looking at their goods but with the language barrier I could never really get a good conversation going.
My impression of it is that there’s a clean split of opinions towards it and the people in it. As it is the place where the groups are located and where all the events and activities take place, I expect it to be a lot easier to get into the fanom and probably more acknowledged and understood in society. At the same time it can be fairly unappealing and judged by the society which honestly as a fan we don’t really have to take their opinion to heart as it’s a simple case of not seeing the value in what fans find valuable.

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?

It’s interesting to me as even though they are not as accessible to us, there is still a ever growing interest to them. The power of the internet plays a big role as they probably did not expect and intent for their group to gain popularity globally. Fans play a big role to help spread the interest with fan subs and blog translation.

As a fan, I would definitely want management to show interest and reach out to allow the fans around the world a opportunities to meet their idols. When management do reach out, fans go an extra mile for it. The amount of discussions, preparations and effort when an idol group comes overseas shows exactly that. Realistically though, it may not likely happen for the effort needed and many different matters complicate doing so.

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

I see it as a positive thing. Kanji Keyaki has been soaring in popularity since debut, and the 21 of them form a solid group with quite strong personalities. The effort Hiragana needs to stand out amongst the currently solid members will be difficult. Having open up their own chance to appeal and solidify their members and group will help them grow and challenge Kanji in the near future.

Recently hiragana 2nd gen has debuted their activities. What are your expectation for them?
Honestly, I haven’t seen enough of them to expect too much, There are a few that stand out to me like Watanabe Miho and Tomita Suzuka but they will need more time to pick up and shine. This is kind of related to the discussion above whereas Hiragana 1st gen has to mixing and try to stand out among Kanji, which I do see them definitely capable of. I’d be interested to see more.

Recently we’ve seen Yuichanzu Wcenter for Glass o ware. What are your thoughts on changing center?
I think it’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of the songs has Techi as the main focus or is about her and she is hard working and amazing. I do however definitely see potential of having different centers. Perhaps they aim for story and message conveying, i believe each member does have their own stories and can deliver their own twist to keyaki being at center.

That and uh… Zumiko bias here, seeing her in center is something I want and will never get tired of. Looking forward to the day she is officially chosen to be center for a a-side.

Japanese and Foreign culture diverge on some topic, like love ban rule. What is your opinion on this?
This is quite a difficult topic to talk about. I think the intention of “idol” includes being girls who are pure, and in a way the fans can consider them as their lover. The love ban rule is to protect this image where if they do have relationships, the image mentioned will not be there.
I personally think not having love ban rule would not be a completely bad thing. Love ban rule keeps them lovers for everyone but at the same time it can also means “no one”. Sure, without the rule they may not appear as “pure” as idols are intended to be, but I feel like that just makes them more “human” and in a way approachable. Breaking the love ban rule usually causes scandal and huge damage for idols, ruining their career as well as breaking the heart of all her fans. In a way, I think of HKT48’s Sashi as an example that partially supports my opinion. In a way she has broken the rule before and she was punished, yet she has bounced back, became one of the faces of akb48 group and even uses her relationship/scandal in gags which makes her appear more down to earth.
Overall, I feel like not having the rule and leaving the choice of being pure looked up at or be approachable and “love-able” would make idols more interesting. But hey, that’s just me and what i think lol.

Overall, What do you think makes keyakizaka different? What do you think of the current keyakizaka? Doing well or points to improve?
The very cool, at times rebellious, yet relatable style of Keyakizaka makes them stand out from the others for me. The current keyaki is full of colorful personalities as well almost like your typical anime classmates in a classroom. You’ve got the very quiet one, the childish one, the serious, the rich and even the transfer student the joins the class a little late (I’m pretty sure certain members come to your mind from that lol). I feel that the members and the style of their songs also goes well together. The sub-units like Aozora to MARRY and Yuichanzu are ways the group utilize the variety of styles the member can bring with songs and performances that differs from their main style and I enjoy these sub-units a lot as well.

Main improvement I can see is the wellness of the members. Having only debuted for about two and a half year, there’s more than enough times when signs of poor health, fatigue and other issues are occuring. Of course from the outside we do not know if the management is pushing them too hard, the members are pushing themselves too hard, or are there other factors to this but wellness of the members is as important if not more important than the rest. Hopefully there is a way they could strike a balance and the group can remain healthy and perform to the level they are capable of.

Thank you for your time. If you have a shoutout to do, please go ahead.
Thanks for the interview! It was fun to think about these questions that i never really heavily considered. I am definitely open and interested in interacting with fans so I would love to connect with fans and find more channels to do so as well!