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The Eye of the fandom : Canadian maple syrup

A fellow french-speaker is here to represent Canada. Despite her young age, she has a long history as an idol fan. Let’s hear her thoughts about Keyakizaka.

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

Hello, I am NewGen48. I’m 17 years old student. I apologize in advance if my text is too long, I speak a lot and I write as much as speaks, so: Thank you for your time

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

My close friends, parents, family knows about it. People at school may know that I listen to Japanese music but nothing specific. My parents found it weird and somehow worrying at first (when you 15 years old daughter spent her free time looking at girls it can raise questions). They don’t really understand why I’m so into it. My father would rather see me doing other things like reading books and wished that I had another hobby, but it really doesn’t matter to them. My dad also find the music, groups and girls to be always the same, repetitive and don’t catch why I listen to so much of it and follow so many groups (48 & 46, =LOVE and 22/7, so 48, Akimoto related girls group) My friends and family listen to my talking endlessly about idols without caring but they don’t look down on me. My friends often find it funny (when I get too excited or a bit down from the group’s news), but they look at the pictures I show them. They also don’t know how I differentiate them. Globally, they accept it without being over critical or interested.

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

I got into idols after watching AKB0048 in March 2014, after I was able to understand how AKB48 worked, I started to follow the group. It was around Kibouteki Refrain that I was able to really understand how the group worked. I was following the whole AKB48 Group since then I follow groups more closely if there is a girl or a song that interested me but my interest fluctuates with time. I was a Takahashi Minami oshi, but she announced her graduation soon after I started to follow actively the group. So I searched for an oshimen again, it was around then that the 2nd draft Kaigi was held and a bunch of new gen were starting to arrive in all the groups, In march 2015 when I was catching up (before that I was still learning that most of the AKB0048 girls had already left the group)with the recent AKB, there was no kenkyuusei, so I jumped in the 2015 new gen wagon and looked at the girls profiles that interested me, I was searching for someone close to my age at that time 14/15 and most of the girl were older, until the draft. My oshi became Mizuno Airi for the 2015 summer I was really into SKE 7D2. It was also that summer that NGT and Toriizaka46 members were announced and their profiles put online. As I always do since then and each time a new gen or group are revealed, I look at the profiles to see if there are some cute girls that would interest me. I was not into Nogizaka46 at all (except for Inoshi wa Utsukuchii single that was really a hit for me, great song), I was really looking forward to the new 46 groups so I could start following a group from scratch. It’s then that Keyaki was revealed to me. Nowadays there are so many 48&46 groups that I can’t follow all of them closely, I listen to every groups songs but there is no group that I follow as closely as Keyaki, the fact the group is the relatively small really helps and there is a sizeable gathering of talented/cute girls. Also since my 48 oshi Kodama Haruka has been on hiatus in 2017 and 2018, I’m focusing more and more into Keyakizaka46.

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

Well, I’m a pretty volatile girls when it comes to oshi. I do not consider myself to me a DD even though I really like 12 Keyaki at the moment and I appreciate 21 girls and the others are fine, there is like 2/3 members that I don’t really like. But since my ranking changes frequently, I’ll just say I like Keyaki. My oshimen is Hirate Yurina from the start. Since I saw her profile. She was the only girl of my age AND, she had SHORT HAIR. She was previously doing basketball (so she was not that frail like most of the group that a really bad at sport) and she just caught my eyes. My interest was confirmed in the few first Keyakitte Kakenai episodes that I watched. Sadly at that time there was no regular sub of the show so I lost track of the group for a little bit. Then they announced that the first single was coming! I crossed my fingers that Yurina would be the center and as I said on Stage48 before the senbatsu announcement: “I really hope for a Hirate center or W center Imaizumi Yui. Maybe a 4 center but it would be pretty strange if it’s happen I think of Miyu, Yurina, Imaizumi Yui, Kobayashi Yui (Based on the picture).”  My current favorite girls are : Hirate Yurina, Immaizumi Yui, Shida Manaka, Koike Minami, Oda Nana and Watanabe Rika. In Hirigana Keyaki my oshimens are Saito Kyoko and Sasaki Mirei, I also like Kato Shiho, Takamoto Ayaka, Watanabe Miho and Tomita Suzuka. They all have different appeal and I really like Keyaki girls for their wide range of personalities.

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

I have never been to Japan, so I never to concerts or handshake. I would love to go to a handshake in the future. But since Quebec is far from Japan and the tickets are expensive so I will go to Japan in maybe less than 10 years?

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

The only goods I have is the Silent Majority Type-A (Limited Edition) I bought a while ago. I have 2 other AKB48 singles and 1 AKB48 album. I don’t have much to spend since I’m a student, I work 5h/week at minimum wage and since the canadian dollar has not a super great exchange rate a CD cost me around 25 CAD$ + shipping so it’s not really a good option to buy goods for me.

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

It’s probably still Silent Majority even though I like every of the 6th single so far. I like Silent Majo of its sentimental value, the first time I saw Hirate at the beginning of the choreography and her powerful stare, I was charmed. It left a big impact on me and it was the foundation of Keyakizaka46 as we know it. I also really like Kaze ni Fukarete Mo but the perfs were so disappointing that I can’t say it is my favorite A-side. But the MV dance and the song were one of my favorite!

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

I mainly use Twitter, for news, pictures and updates. I also use Jshowbiz aka AKB48 Daily since 2015. Since French is my first language, I also consult AKBgirls48 and Podcast48 for infos/community talk. Stage48 Wiki, is also useful, for singles, line-up and girls info. I consult some blogs like your’s and Sakamichinotes. For videos, I use spreadsheets that are updated frequently and depressing sub is also great!

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

I have never interacted with them, so my opinion is not first hand experienced. For me a small part of the japanese fandom is just too much into their idols and they are going over board to be close to them. They seem nice from what I heard.

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?

I only know the french/english speaking and Stage48 fandom. The foreign fandom I know is diverse in term of background, age and everything that define an individual. We have very diverse opinions some do like super classic orthodoxe idols, other likes more underground types, some are for example only Keyaki fans, others are only into Nogizaka and block, keyaki keywords on their twitter. Keyaki fans I know are not all into the 21 people Kanji Keyaki A-side, some wish to have a senbatsu selection like Nogi/48G, some would like dual A-side, it differs. I see a lot of strong and opinionated comments sometimes not really a constructive debate (it’s hard to have a calm and respectful one), people tend to only push their argument without really trying to understand each other.

I wish that management shows more interest into the global fandom, but we are not a huge market since we are spread worldwide. I also think we are not as a homogeneous group as the japanese one. The first things they should do (and that applies to a lot of idols groups) are to have an unlocked Youtube channel that is available to watch all over the world. Maybe they can also facilitate buying goods and the applications for handshakes and concerts. I don’t think they will ever do international concerts outside Asia. I do hope someday they would produce official subbed english content like Re:Mind that has been made available worldwide.

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

I am really happy with this turn of event! For me Keyaki has never really mixed the 2 groups and when they were together it was more in a rival way then being mixed. I just find it weird that they choose to have two groups, Hiragana46 could have been the 3rd Sakamichi series group. They created it for Neru but I was really happy when she was fully transferred to Kanji Keyaki, for me, it was her place from the beginning. I think it’s a good thing since I don’t want the Hiragana to be the underdog for ever.

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

My expectation are pretty high, they are a good quality gen and complete the 1st gen. However I find it hard to think of the two gen as one group, for now it’s like the kanji/hiragana situation maybe because of the Kouhai/Senpai culture in Japan but I wished they would be a group were I can’t distinguish the first and second gen, it would help if they stop presenting them as two in the shows like Hiragana Oshi and Keyabingo 4. With Keyabingo4 and Hirigana Oshi, I have high hope for this more diverse, not variety shy gen. I’m still not sure if all the girls are going to be in my rank but they all seem pretty interesting.

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

THAT IS GREAT, Techi, even though she is my oshi, really disappointed me the last 6 months with her ups and downs , she was really moody and frankly did not succeed to perform Kaze ni with a smile on TV once (except maybe one in Keyakizaka46 Show!) I think that we need center for certain type of songs and give Techi some rest. I do understand she wants to put all of her energy in performing but we need to see her face and smile if she doesn’t want to, let someone else take the spotlight. As we saw in the 2nd anniversary the girls are ready to take the center challenge. I don’t want to see anymore spot left because she is not there, it will happen more and more in the future, we can’t let that hurt the group progress. Having another center than Techi is for me taking a step forward.

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

For me Idol is a JOB, nothing else. Girls should have the right to have their private life protected. Since it’s a job in the showbiz industry, I know that they are going to have the same issues as actors or mannequin. But for me as long as they don’t show or talk about their boyfriend/girlfriend EVER when they are working, it’s fine. They should do whatever they want with their free time. AS long as it is a minor part of their life and they stay focused on their work, it’s fine, as long as it is not public (like SNS presence) I’m fine with it. A good example of this is Sutou Ririka. Until she announced her wedding during the 2017 Sousenkyo nobody knew she was dating someone. Maybe the management paid Shunkan Bunshun to post-pone or silence the article but she still was unnoticed and her behavior didn’t change at all, she was still a happy and full of energy. She first met the guy in November of 2015 and even after she announced it. Akimoto Yasushi gave her the chance to stay within the group as a married woman. It proves that an idol it is possible to have two sides, one when working another one in your private time. The recent pseudo-scandal around Shida Manaka and her guy friend is another example of why this rule is not relevant.  Sure when the members are still in their early teens this rule is essential to protect them but. An idol can have a boyfriend AND stay focused on her job simultaneously.

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

I’m not sure what the management is going to do with them since they announced a joint audition for the Sakamichi series group. It makes me worry that they will add new members since it’s the low number of members but bonded groups. If they keep adding members it will be harder to keep a all friends group with not too many relations issues such as respecting the older members to the point where they would restrain themselves to speak and stay only close to their gen mates. I worry about this decision since a key part of keyaki difference is for me their bond. Member close together behind the scene, love drama within Oda Nana and the members, unique et fragile girls that remind us that they are humans. I do wish they’ll get less camera shy so we can improve the variety quality of shows (especially in Keyakitte Kakenai). Hiragana seems more good for variety. For Hiragana, they could maybe improve some girl singing skill? I do hope they will grow stronger and have better health (they could have a little break when they are at their limits right?). With member getting more outside job, I hope Keyaki girls are not going to be overworked. I wished the management explains, even if vaguely, when and why the girls are absent. Otherwise, I hope they still try different music/dance style and try to change the center in the next few singles!

Thank you very much for your time. If you have a shout out to do, please go ahead.

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