Thursday, February 1, 2018

Happy 6th Anniversary A.B.C-Z!!!!  6周年、おめでとうございます!

Happy 6th Anniversary to A.B.C-Z! 6周年、おめでとうございます!!!

I’ve only been following them since 2013 or so but it’s been an incredible journey, watching the group grow and mature, and I couldn’t be happier or prouder to be a fan. I’ve written about them approximately one million times here on the old blog [please click here for an archive of posts] but I can’t stop myself from writing again.

(From left to right, they are: Ryoichi Tsukada, Fumito Kawai, Ryosuke Hashimoto, Shota Totsuka, and Koichi Goseki)

A.B.C-Z are never going to be the best selling or most popular idol group in the world or even in Japan but I love them even more for it. Totsuka and Kawai are the John Lennon and Paul McCartney of A.B.C-Z, dueling creative forces of personal artistry and showmanship who compromise into a good balance of both. Goseki, the oldest, zen dance master and overall weirdo. Tsukada, an idol fan himself, knows first hand what it will take to please an audience and is always happy to deliver. And Hashimoto, the beloved baby of the group, who has worked with these guys since he was 14 and who the entire fandom has watched mature from an awkward, insecure teenager into a confident adult.

I first fell in love with them in the summer of 2013. I was watching one of the giant music performance shows Japanese television loves putting on when my attention was fully caught by this group of five utterly charming guys I’d never heard of before. I rewound the performance over and over again, skin tingling in pleasure every time they held the ずっと over the dropped beat with the little “OK” hand gesture in “ずっとLOVE”.

Over the next few weeks I would order everything they had released so far, which luckily wasn’t much. One filmed stage play, three DVD “singles”, and one small scale concert film. I’ve followed them through the travel reality show in Australia, the late night drama where they played virgin superheroes, all the iterations of their retro stage revues, the regular CD singles, the DVD singles, the albums… I’ve traveled to Japan four times to see them perform (11 concerts, 4 stage performances) and translated dozens of articles and essays from Japanese into English. I’ve learned more about Japanese contemporary theater than I thought I would ever need to know. I’m grateful to have learned about Japanese contemporary literature from Totsuka and about Japanese pop culture from Kawai. I’m grateful to have learned how to properly participate as a member of a Japanese idol audience from Goseki. And I’m grateful to have been on the receiving end of the love that Tsukada and Hashimoto send out into the audience at every performance.

I am truly grateful to be a fan of A.B.C-Z. They have given me an incredible amount of pleasure and joy over the last few years. I keep threatening to write and idol book and this is why: to the outside observer, the idol-fan relationship can look gross and transactionary. We give them money and they give us a smile and a shitty pop song. What those outside observers are missing is the emotional aspect. Idol fans love our idols because they give us an escape from the mundanity of regular life. The melding of music, dance, and emotion, the bonding with our fellow fans, the transcending of everyday experience into a higher plane of existence. (Yeah, I went there.) The cost of an album or two is nothing in comparison to the pure joy I’ve felt standing in the middle of an A.B.C-Z concert, just one fan in a sea of thousands, tears falling uncontrollably as they kick into サポーターズ! (“Supporters!”).

THAT is what being an idol fan is all about. That is what being an A.B.C-Z fan is all about. Supporting the group and having them support us in turn.








You and Me

I want to be your support

Even in your darkest night

So you can dry your tears

You aren’t alone

Don’t forget that

I also wanted to help you out

That’s why you don’t have to hold back

You and me

1 comment:

Tiffany Jones said...

Supporters. I hope Tottsu puts that in every concert. Because yes.

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