Asahi Shimbun: Camera Boys and Idols in Japan


Italian guy living in Japan. I like all 48 groups but JKT interest me the most. I wish to contribute to their popularity in Japan and see them do an event here! Team J = Veranda, Gentiga = Nina, but my oshi is Ayen :) I never wanted to support someone as much as I do her.

5 Responses

  1. wmlx says:

    Firstly, thanks to Wotaliano for the article and translation.

    I’ll be frank: one of the reasons why JKT48 attracted my attention was the number of fancams of their performances in the early days. It was nothing like I’ve seen. The carefully manicured image that the talent agencies ensure that their talent looks at their best in the official DVD/BD release in Japan: no such thing in the wild west of Indonesia.

    It is actually quite refreshing seeing the Idols without the filter and post processing of their talent agencies. They are still human.

    The Underground Idol (地下アイドル) has always been a bit more open with photography, but owing to the privacy/image rights of Japan a lot of the fan photography online is heavily redacted to avoid complications with the audience subject matter. (Exhibit A: Rica Leyona’s Japan trip)

    In saying that, the rise of the “Camera Boys” in Japan is more symptomatic of the fragmentation of the Idol sub-culture. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The world is big for all of us.

    • Wotaliano says:

      Hello wmlx, and thanks for your comment.

      As the article says, it’s more about “love” than about “money” this day and age.
      Fans take pictures of not-so-big groups, leading possibly to better exposure…
      It’s kind of sad to me that as soon as they hit certain levels of popularity, though, such liberties (not only about photography)
      get very limited or fully disappear.

      But I suppose it is a necessary evil for the group itself: those core fans will move somewhere else, and the cycle will start again…

  2. wmlx says:

    It is the ultimate irony in Idol-ing (is that even a word?): part of their appeal is their underground nature. Because their are underground, they need all the exposure they can get, including via Camera Boys. But as they become more successful, their appeal drops. And the image restrictions begin.

    As a Underground Idol (地下アイドル) fan you want them to do well, but when they do, it dilutes their attractiveness. It is almost as if the only way to keep the magic is for them to never improve. But if anything does not improve it slides into obsolescence.

    “Love” doesn’t pay the bills, but the way the アイドル industry monetises their acts makes the magic of their products disappear.

    For what it is worth I find myself wistfully looking back at JKT48 in 2012-2013 sometimes, when they were unpolished and more raw. There is a certain amount of nostalgia for me rewatching some of the early fancams.

    I suppose that is how people end up in the 2D アイドル space.

  3. manak says:

    Sorry, please let me do small corrections.

    Aries Entertainment (Usa☆Usa Shojo Club, etc.) CEO Yoshihiro Watanabe
    Kazuaki Watanabe


    It’s because that I am a big fan of usa☆usa and Bashasan is a friend of mine :-P