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

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

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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 Denpagumi.inc (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 Denpagumi.inc 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. Denpagumi.inc 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
Denpagumi.inc 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 Denpagumi.inc 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 Denpagumi.inc 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 Denpagumi.inc 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 Denpagumi.inc
website here.
Official Denpagumi.inc
youtube channel here.
More Artist Spotlight articles can be found here.

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