Nothing But Otaku In This Idol Group (Artist Spotlight #2)

With so many idol groups it can be quite difficult to actually get noticed and catch people’s interest. Because of this groups tend to adopt all kinds of interesting and sometimes strange backstories and gimmicks. In the case of the idol group (でんぱ組.inc) they have chosen to market themselves as the otaku idol group.

Although the word “otaku” was originally used as a polite way to refer to someone’s house, nowadays, it is more often than not used to refer to someone that is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about anime, manga and/or video games. This more modern use of the word otaku is the one that uses and one look at their music videos makes this abundantly clear. For example, the music video for their 2014 single “Bari 3 kyowakoku” (The Republic of Bari 3) is full of anime inspired elements. Between all the animated sequences, space battles, epic poses and even the title itself, which is the name of a fictional nation, it seems like this could easily be the opening to an a Gundam inspired space anime.

Aside from the group’s otaku inspired visual style the group also clearly draws heavily from otaku culture for their music. Their music largely falls under the genre of “denpa song”, which is also referred to as Akiba-pop or A-pop. As the name Akiba-pop implies this is a style of music very strongly associated with Akihabara, an area of Tokyo that has developed a reputation for being the “holy land” of otaku. This musical genre is characterized by high BPM, strange but catchy melodies, nonsensical but memorable lyrics and an overall electronic, at times classic video game-esque sound. very much embraces this musical style, so much so that their catchphrase for a time was “Sending out energy into the world via denpa song.”

Of course, as with most genres of music the denpa song genre is constantly evolving and a fair amount of variety exists within it. For example, in another single released in 2014, this time entitled “Chururi Chrururia” it is possible to hear many of the typical denpa song elements mentioned above mixed with elements of traditional Japanese music. The music video for this song, featured below, begins with the members travelling through time. Then, all of a sudden they find themselves in a, as the narrator puts it, “slightly strange” version of feudal Japan. Much like the music video for “Bari 3 kyowakoku” this one also borrows heavily from the world of anime and manga.

 As for the 6 members themselves, they all claim to be otaku, thus giving them that extra bit of otaku street cred. Each member has a different “otaku genre” they are interested in and they all make it public as part of their profiles. For example, the sole remaining founding member, Mirin Furukawa, nickname Mirinchan, is the video game otaku. Her catch phrase is “A gamer idol that can sing and dance.” As one would expect, other members also claim to be anime, manga and cosplay otaku. However, Nemu Yumemi, nickname Nemukyun, has perhaps the most interesting area of interest, “otaku research.” What that exactly means is not clear but it likely means that she is interested in otaku culture in general.

Although the group originally formed in 2008 as Denpagumi, it would not be until December of 2011 that the group would take on its current roster and name. They are still very much active and perform live quite regularly. Their live performances are, much like their music videos, very energetic and intense. Love them or hate them these girls definitely work hard.

On December 25th the group will be celebrating its’ 5 year anniversary and in honor of this they are releasing a best of album, which features a new song called “WWDBEST.” The music video for this song was released on November 30th and although it may not have as many clearly anime inspired elements to it as some of their previous videos it is still an intense non-stop experience that is very much in line with much of their previous work.

Of course, by embracing otaku culture in the way may have turned away some of the people that are into the more mainstream idol groups, like AKB48. However, regardless of whether you like them or not I would argue that this group is far more memorable than many other idol groups. Perhaps the reason for this, aside from all the flashy visuals and fast paced music, is the fact that that they seem to, at least on the surface, have wholeheartedly embraced otaku and otaku culture and don’t necessarily try to appeal to the average pop music consumer. Where this group goes from here is anyone’s guess but considering that they have already performed in numerous countries including Singapore, Korea, England and the U.S. it may not be long before they are as internationally well-known as Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.

Bonus video
Here is another interesting music video. This one is for a 2015 song entitled “Gidagida da Zubazuba da.” Although the song itself is a bit different in style from their usual denpa song stuff the video, which features the members turning into giants and shooting energy blasts from their hands in order to save the world from aliens, is pretty much what you’d expect from them  Enjoy

Official website here.
Official youtube channel here.
More Artist Spotlight articles can be found here.
Nothing But Otaku In This Idol Group (Artist Spotlight #2) Nothing But Otaku In This Idol Group (Artist Spotlight #2) Reviewed by Japankyo on 12/13/2016 12:15:00 AM Rating: 5

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