Tokyo Idols

Tokyo Idols

Thursday, May 11, 2017 - 9:15pm
Trailer(s)
Kyoko Miyake | 
UK/Canada |
 2017 | 
88 minutes

With its saccharine vocal tracks and armies of young women in whacky outfits, it is easy to think of J-Pop idols as just another weird subculture. But idols are big business in Japan, reportedly worth more than a billion dollars per year. At the centre of this maelstrom of hysterical cuteness and rainbow-coloured froth are some pretty basic human emotions — namely loneliness and sadness. Director Miyake follows a number of different idols and the men (and women) who worship them — from handshake events to stadium concerts. At the heart of her film, there is a deep and fundamental ambivalence at work. Even as her camera captures an arena full of grown men weeping like babies over a soppy ballad, Miyake does not shy away from the creepy factor. As one man says, idol events are the only place where he does not have to worry about “social rank and obligation,” and where he can finally “experience joy and release.” -DW

Currently, there are approximately 10,000 teenage girls in Japan who market themselves as ‘idols’. This eye-opening documentary looks at the idol industry — with its seemingly endless supply of squeaky, cutesy, Manga-styled schoolgirl pop stars — and its principle consumers, predominantly adult males... Director Miyake introduces us to other idols, each younger than the last. And with each, she unpeels the onion skin to reveal a queasier realm of fandom... But while it’s tempting to assume a dubious sexual motivation in the fans’ obsession, this is not always the case. Commentators point to the pressure of Japan’s long- running recession and a culture which finds infantilization comforting and freeing. The fans’ ‘relationship’ with the object of their adoration is viewed as a low stress alternative to the hard work of a real girlfriend. - SCREEN INTERNATIONAL