This week’s edition is about Thalia Ivanka Elizabeth! And we begin this post by first introducing her nickname!
Vanka…. the little Thalia
At first, she was introduced as Vanka so that others will not confuse Thalia (Tata) and her. But it really isn’t difficult to tell them apart because they have such a size and age difference.
As a result, members and fans eventually began to call her Thacil (short for Thalia kecil or Little Thalia) and it has become a name she loves to use.
- Thalia and Thacil
Vanka debuted as a 2nd generation member, at the young age of 14. Now in Team J, she maintains a cute and lively little sister image in JKT48.
She also likes to make funny faces and normally tweets about the everyday things a teenager goes through, such as homework, food and not wanting to get fat. This normal side of her and her adorable cuteness has become a big part of her appeal.
Thacil the little sister
A member once told her that she has a sad face, although she doesn’t remember who said it. That idea stuck around and it later became her catchphrase, “Even if my face looks sad, I am always happy! Call me Vanka!”
Her popularity and exposure
Vanka doesn’t receive as much media attention or appearances as the other regular members. There aren’t many video footage of her performances either, except for her early work with the 2nd gen, and her center performance in Tenshi no Shippo.
Nonetheless, she did gain a decent exposure when she traveled and performed in concerts around Indonesia’s provinces.
Securing a position for Vanka in the major voting contests has been difficult for her fans too, although they did manage to vote her into the top 10 for Kagami during the Pajadora revival last year.
But, they successfully voted for her as JKT48’s Member who is Most Suited to be a Dentist, in another voting contest held by Hai.
An article focused solely on Vanka published with her dressed up as in a dentist uniform. That win remains the most encouraging and significant victory for Vanka supporters all over.
In August, Vanka received her first big break in her tenure as a regular member. Management selected her as one of the new faces in the single senbatsu for Kokoro no Placard.
She had never been in an A-side single release before this. So, when her name was called out by management, the first thing that came to her mind was, “Ah, what was that? Did I hear wrongly?”
As a single senbatsu, Vanka experienced the joys of playing in the big league, filming for a MV and donning the KnP costume.
- The moment Vanka realized she is now senbatsu for Kokoro no Placard. As you would expect, it is also a difficult moment for others whose names didn’t get called out.
But it was not only that. In the same month, she flew off with the other KnP senbatsu to perform in Yokohama Arena, Kanagawa, Japan for @JAM Expo 2014.
There, she represented JKT48 in performing at an idol festival, and they performed on the same stage with many well known idol groups such as PASSPO☆, LinQ and SUPER☆GiRLS.
The idol festival became an important meeting for a Vanka oshi in Japan. There, that fan battled through hundreds of people to make her way to the front row with her self-made board. Vanka noticed and acknowledged her presence. It touched the fan so much it even brought tears to her fan’s eyes.
Self-made board by Vanka fan at @JAM Expo 2014
Read about fan reactions to JKT48 at @JAM Expo here.
Wait…. so who is the little sister of JKT48?
A rocky road
Vanka’s road to becoming a regular member was a tough one for her. Even a year after her debut, theater reviews pointed out that she was still shy and passive at theater shows.
Her dance was poor at the start, and for over a year, she continued to persevere and improve her skills. She even did her own improvisations in Higurashi no Koi
Not bad, Thacil.
She loved to sing since young, though. Once, she sang Higurashi with an open-mic (no lip sync). Theater regular @ekapen commented positively on her vocals and even lauded it as an outstanding performance.
Sadly, Vanka wasn’t included when her peers formed Team KIII in June 2013. As she continued being a trainee, she had to endure the many uncertainties that laid in that path. Nobody knew if trainees still had a chance to promote or how long it would take.
By the end of that year, 4 other trainees had already chosen to resign. It was a huge pressure for her.
Promotion….. is clearly a heavy burden on her small shoulders.
At the start of 2014, contractual issues also came up, and fans resigned to the fate that Vanka may have to join her other peers who left the group.
Therefore, it came as the biggest surprise when Jiro-san announced that she and Rachel were going to be promoted to Team J at the Manatsu no Sounds Good handshake event.
Members and fans both cheered aloud for Rachel and Vanka as they found a new home in Team J, overwhelming the many tears that was shed for these hardworking girls.
Celebrations all around for Rachel’s and Vanka’s promotion into regular members.
(Toukairin further elaborates about the significance of their promotion here.)
Incidentally, it also marked a poignant departure as Akicha and Rena left Team J and became permanent members of AKB48 the following day.
That wasn’t the end of her trials however. In July 2014, the creepy phenomenon that is usually hidden in the dark side of idol entertainment – stalking, emerged in her personal life.
A fan stalked and stayed around her home’s residences. It was so disturbing, her family members had to step out of the house and deal with the situation.
Later on, a personal source explained to me that there were even efforts made to try to sell and auction off her home address to the highest bidder. (Simply ridiculous!)
Coincidentally, earlier in April, Hai featured an article that highlighted another fan’s stalking incident (to Vanka’s house too, no less) in a slightly positive tone. The post received a lot of flak and a majority of fans reacted negatively to it, citing that privacy for members is important.
Regardless of their intention when posting that article, I believe it ultimately encouraged other readers to engage in the stalking behavior that engulfed Vanka’s privacy.
In the group, Vanka is closest to Rachel and Via, and together they shared the same struggles in their long trainee journey.
But it was the pairing of Rachel and Van that struck the most in fans minds, more so because they were the same age and Rachel’s calm nature complimented Vanka’s playfulness.
To celebrate their 1 year anniversary in Team J on 23rd February, both their supporters created #chelvan and messages, photos, videos and drawings were tweeted in tribute to the both of them. (See what they posted on #chelvan, here)
#chelvan puts up their potraits in the Team J section at the theater
Chelvan later reciprocated their encouragement by posting a Google+ post where they filmed their own celebration and reading out fans messages.
Take a look for yourself and find out what they can do to celebrate using ketchup, chili sauce and a a burger.
Looking back at the stories, I find it horrible that a 15 year old teenager have to experience harassment or stalkers at such a young age. It will be a shame if personal safety issues like this discourages any person to become an idol.
Thacil is cute, and a wonderful member to have in JKT48. She makes for a great combination with Rachel and is an important inspiration for all future trainees to never give up, especially for those who take a longer time to shine. I hope she continues to give her best.
May you mature and become a wonderful member, Thacil!
As always, thanks to Pitra, @anakcerdas (Flickr) and @ExPersia (Flickr) for their fabulous photos. Certain photos are also credited to JKT48’s Official Facebook Page, Vanka’s Twitter and also Tumblr (1), (2).
And once again, if you would like to volunteer to translate this article to Bahasa Indonesia, do let us know via the contact form or tweet us at @jkt48stuff!
Here are links for additional reading and videos about Vanka
Read about some of the pressures of being an unpromoted trainee (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
Read about the controversial arguments made against Vanka’s and an idol’s privacy (Article in Bahasa Indonesia)
Video about Vanka’s center performance in Tenshi no Shippo
Video about Vanka as a Dentist for Hai Magazine
Video about Vanka’s and Rachel’s promotion into Team J
Video about Vanka’s “older twin,” DJ Una
Video about Vanka’s performance in Tsundere (Fancam)