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Goin’ Japanesque!

5 Select Anime Featuring “Idol” Culture, which is Uniquely Japanese

“Idols” are artists with strong individuality to attract fans and such idol activities are commonly seen in Korea at the present.

However, this trend of following idols occurred in Japan in the 1980s.

This time, I will introduce five recent anime with the theme of such “idol”.


1. “Love Live! Sunshine!!”

The stage of the story is in Uranohoshi Gakuin, a girls’ high school.

This school is at the imminent risk of being consolidated or closed, because of the drastic decrease in the number of children in Japan due to the declining birthrate and aging population.

With such a background, nine students including Chika Takami form an idol group Aqours and start PR activities for the school.

Speaking of idol anime in Japan, this work’s name tends to come up first.

Originally a work titled “Love Live!” was created first, and it became extremely popular as it expanded from games to TV anime, and an anime movie for theaters after 2013.

“Love Live! Sunshine!!” is a sequel to this work and it has been offered in games and anime since 2015.

In the previous work of “Love Live!” the female idol group called “μ’s (Muse)” was in the leading role.

In this work, almost all the main characters were changed, and the story revolves around an idol group Aqours.


2. Tsukiuta, The Animation

Two male idol groups, Six Gravity and Procellarum belong to the same entertainment agency and they are both composed of six members.

They are rivals that compete for popularity, but sometimes they cooperate as friends.

This work depicts them performing entertainment activities as popular characters and living their lives as ordinary boys.

This anime is intended for female audience as male characters perform idol activities.

I found it interesting that the main character changed from episode to episode in the aired anime on TV.

It was designed for each fan to be able to find an episode in which her most favorite character takes the leading role in the story development.


3. Aikatsu!

Yotsuboshi Gakuen (Starlight Academy) is a school to foster idols.

The school is divided into four troupes; Song Troupe for students majoring in singing, Theater Troupe for students who wish to become actress of TV drama or theater play, Dance Troupe for dance majors, and Beauty Troupe for aspiring fashion models.

The top students of these four troupes were called “S4”.

This story depicts the main character Yume Nijino and her classmates working hard to become “S4” together.

Originally this idol debuted in a video game for primary school girls.

It is a game in which players can dress the character with pretty dresses and so on, then it has developed into TV anime.

The first two idol anime introduced earlier also developed the same way, staring as video games and then evolving to anime.

Supplying a fictitious presence with personality and hobbies, and people love and worship these characters.

It is truly idol, an imaginary target of worship.


4. Hatsune Miku

Miku is a leading virtual idol of Japan that many of you might know.

But to tell the truth, a long feature anime involving her does not exist yet.

Originally it was an artificial-voice software, and it was not even a character.

However, fans voluntarily created and posted many songs, manga and illustrations, gradually forming a cohesive character, and it has developed to the extent that concerts were held using 3D images.

Its popularity has traveled not only in Japan but also to overseas, and finally Miku was even used in a collaboration with well-known brands such as Chanel.


5. Sekko Boys

Plaster bust statues are often used in drawing art and they include figures of Saint George, Medici, Hermes and Mars.

This short anime was created based on the premise of what if they existed as idols, and it lasts only 8 minutes per episode.

It is a strange anime in which statues serve as idols; those plaster statues I am sure you have seen at least once if you had any experience of art.

Perhaps for this reason, Holbein Works, Ltd., a major manufacturer of art supplies is sponsoring this anime.

Maybe because they are statues, they don’t move at all even though it is anime.

Furthermore, this work started in a highly unusual way, not as video games like other works but as anime and selling related goods.

The entertainment activity involving idols that rely on symbolic characters like Mickey Mouse and Snoopy is highly compatible with anime.

There are many other idol anime works in Japan besides those introduced in this article.

What is your favorite idol anime?

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Berial the Demon

About the author

It has been over 40 years of reading manga in the deep world of manga. Japan’s manga has an endlessly wide variety of genres. I will be recommending special manga for you to read from such infinite amount of works.

View all articles by Berial the Demon