Now that we got the special stages out of the way in part 1, let’s go on to the rest of the groups in the festival! In this post, I’ll be introducing my recommended Tokyo Idol Festival groups from A-G.
@17 (8/4 and 8/5)
Did you know that @home cafe has its own idol unit? I didn’t, but apparently they formed one in 2016 called @17. I guess the 17 part comes from the maids being eternally seventeen, not the amount of members (they have eighteen members currently). All of the girls are also maids at the @home cafes across Tokyo. As you’d imagine, they have a very girly, pink, anime, moe feel to them. I’ll be honest, I think their songs are a bit of a snooze, but I’ve always loved the @home uniforms, the girls are really good-looking, and this is a group you should definitely check out if you’re a fan of both idols and maids.
2o Love to Sweet Bullet (8/4)
2o Love to Sweet Bullet is a group I’ve seen a number of times and I think they’re pretty fun. The group started out in 2015 and the original members were all scouted in Harajuku, which is pretty interesting. Their theme is spreading love and peace and they have what they call a slightly EDM sound. In case you ever wondered how to say the name of the group like I did, both 2o and to are pronounced like the English “two”. Their music in general is pretty good, but my specific recommendations are Maemuki Uemuki SWEET HEART! and Soko de Yonde Watashi ni Oshiete Hoshii.
Also, they did a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit, what more could you want?
3B Junior (8/3-8/5)
3B Junior consists of the junior members of Stardust Entertainment that are in the not yet major debuted groups Okuzawamura, Majestic Seven, Leaf Citron, and Sakuchan to Jiiji. Most of the now famous Stardust members started out as 3B junior members, so at least a couple of them will probably make it big! If you become a fan now, you can brag to all your friends when that happens.
9nine is a group that focuses on a high level of performance and bringing their audience happiness. They started as a nine member group in 2005 and named the group 9nine with the thoughts that although they weren’t perfect, they could work hard to try to become close to a perfect ten. Two of the current four members are original members of the group and the other two have been around since 2010. That’s pretty amazing in the idol world and their experience shows in their performances. 9nine has a lot of really good songs and is a great group to follow if you like girls who are talented, mature, and a bit older than your typical idols (they range from 21-26). Sadly, it’s a bit tough to listen to their songs what with them not being on YouTube or Spotify, but if you can get ahold of them, I recommend SunSunSunrise and With You/With Me.
AIS -All Idol Songs- (8/3 and 8/4)
AIS is a group formed by Sony in 2016 that lives up to its name: they cover any and all idol songs. Songs from well known groups, songs from unknown groups, songs from disbanded groups, songs from anime idol groups, they sing all of them! AIS is a fairly young group, ranging from 14-17, so they have a lot of room for growth. That sounds like I’m trying to find a nice way to call them shitty, but they’re actually fairly decent at singing and dancing, I’m just excited to see them develop even more in the future. I’m sure with it being TIF and all, they’ll choose to cover some really fun idol songs and it’ll be a blast.
Akishibu Project (8/3-8/5)
Akishibu Project was formed in 2012 by former BiS member Rinahamu, who hoped to blend the fashion culture of Shibuya and the otaku culture of Akihabara together into an idol group. Rinahamu is no longer associated with the group, but it’s still going strong. I think of Akishibu Project as a group with really beautiful and fashionable members that look great doing gravure. They also always seem to put out really fun summer songs. Two of the former Akishibu Project members have made it big by joining =LOVE and Love Cocchi, so the current members could be on track to do some amazing things. Akishibu seems especially popular with girls, so if you want to find cute female wota to hang with, become a fan!
Appare! Harajuku (8/3 and 8/4)
Appare! Harajuku was formed in 2016 with the aim of spreading kawaii and Harajuku culture all over Japan and the world. They gained a fanbase really fast and have crazy lives. Seriously, once I was in the middle of the crowd, had no idea what I was doing, and ended up with a couple bruises and practically falling over. I absolutely loved their music before they went major (APPARE! WORLD is one of my favorite idol albums), but their new music, in my opinion, isn’t as good and most of my favorite members have graduated from the group. Still, Appare! Harajuku has fun music, great lives, and they’re definitely worth seeing.
Asobi Dungeon (8/4 and 8/5)
Asobi Dungeon was formed in 2017 with the motto, “Don’t forget to play even when you become an adult!” They’re very silly, fun, and colorful and remind me of groups like the previously mentioned Appare! Harajuku, Majibanch, and Kamiyado. I haven’t been to Japan since they were formed, but they’re one of the new groups that I’d really like to see.
Ayumikurikamaki (8/3 and 8/4)
Beginning as the singer and DJ duo Kurikamaki in 2012, Ayumi joined in 2014, making it Ayumikurikamaki. They describe themselves as a Kansai based idol punk DJ unit and have a bear concept to the group, coming from Kurika’s “ku” and Maki’s “ma” (TL note: kuma means bear). I liked their music more before Ayumi was added (I think they focused more on the electronic side in Kurikamaki and punk in Ayumikurikamaki), but they still have a pretty cool and unique punk mixed with electronic sound.
Babyraids JAPAN (8/5)
Babyraids JAPAN was formed in 2012 with the idea of combining cuteness with a sudden surprise of rock. They describe their sound as EMOTIONAL IDOROCK and I think their songs are really fun, although I liked their early stuff better. Wow, I sound like a jaded hipster with how many times I’ve said variations on this, huh. Anyway, they recently announced that they are disbanding, so it will be their last time at Tokyo Idol Festival. I’m sure they’ll make it great!
Band Janai Mon! (8/3)
In 2011, founding member Misako decided to get together and form an idol group/band (despite the name meaning “We’re not a band!”) with three other girls. The group started with just vocals, drums, bass, and keyboards, but now also has a clarinet, shaker, and cymbals player. Having some to play shaker is clearly essential to any band. While they’re not a DEARSTAGE group, a couple of the members used to be a part of DEARSTAGE and their sound reminds me of a lot of the DEARSTAGE groups. Some of their songs are very cute, but others have more of a cool, rock band type sound.
In 2014, Beboga! was formed as Baseball Girls. While the members didn’t know anything about baseball, the agency wanted them to be orthodox baseball idols. Rin Kaname became popular in 2015 for her illustrations as Perorin-sensei, so the group became more well known, decided to drop the whole baseball thing, and eventually just changed their name to Beboga! They’ve recently had a lot of changes; they joined DEARSTAGE, had their major debut, Aya left, and Perorin became a concurrent member of Dempagumi.inc. Sadly, they also just announced that they are disbanding. It sucks, I think their music has gotten a lot better as of late. Like Babyraids JAPAN, it will be their last time at Tokyo Idol Festival, so it’ll be an emotional performance.
callme (8/3 and 8/5)
callme was formed in 2014 as a fully self-produced subunit of Dorothy Little Happy. In 2015, the three members graduated from Dorothy Little Happy and devoted themselves to callme full time. Most self-produced idol units don’t handle things like composition and choreography, but callme do! The three of them all write the lyrics, decide their outfits, makeup, and promotional images. Mimori composes their songs and Koumi comes up with the choreography. The group name comes from the names of the three girls; Koumi’s Ko, Ruuna’s Ru, and Mimori’s Mi. They have more of an artist image than an idol image and I think it’s amazing how they handle even composition and choreography on their own.
cana biss (8/3)
Yep, there’s an idol group called cana biss. cana biss is a Niigata based group that was formed in 2014 under the name principal. Last year, they changed their name to cana biss. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. Maybe their manager got really into weed or something. However, their name isn’t the only reason I’m recommending them. cana biss has some pretty solid music and I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen anyone in the alt-idol community talk about them.
CHERRSEE was formed in 2016 as a dance and vocal group that combines synchro dance and catchy melodies. The name comes from the English words cherry seeds because when cherry seeds bloom, they attract people in great numbers. You might think that they seem very K-Pop-like and there’s a reason for that: they were formed by the K-Pop producer Brave Brothers who used to work with YG. If you like both J-Pop and K-Pop or want to get your K-Pop loving friends into J-Pop, check out CHERRSEE.
Chu☆Oh!Dolly (8/3 and 8/4)
Chu☆Oh!Dolly was formed in 2016 with Akihabara and transportation based concepts. That sounds weird and it is, but they’re basically just a cute, high-energy unit with crazy songs. Earlier this year, they became a part of DEARSTAGE, so if you’re a fan of the other DEARSTAGE units, you might also like Chu☆Oh!Dolly. Sadly, both of the members I was a fan of are no longer a part of the group, but they have great songs that are a blast live.
Devil ANTHEM. (8/5)
Devil ANTHEM was formed in 2014 and their concept is that of noisy and energetic orthodox idols. They’re a young group (14-16) and all of the members are also active as actresses, models, and talents. While the girls have a cute and orthodox image, they don’t have the typical orthodox idol sound. Their sound is influenced by rock and EDM and they seem like a fun group to see live.
DREAMING MONSTER (8/4)
DREAMING MONSTER was started in 2015 as an orthodox idol group that only allowed members that were twenty or older to audition. There is no maximum age and they had one woman who was fifty-four audition. Former SKE48 member Tomoko Katou was one of the founding members, although she has now graduated. I don’t think their songs are all that great, but their lives are decent and it’s cool to see an idol group of older members, especially in a group that doesn’t have a sexy image. Not that I have anything against sexy groups, but seems like older groups feel like they need to go the sexy route most of the time. The current members of DREAMING MONSTER range in age from 23-29.
Fleurette (8/4 and 8/5)
Fleurette was formed in 2013 under the name Frill Fleur Sisters as a little sister group to Frill Fleur, but in 2014 when Frill Fleur disbanded, they changed their name to Fleurette, which means small flower in French. While the members are small on their own, when they are together, they become big and bring smiles and happiness. They have a very orthodox idol concept and are based in Shiga prefecture. One interesting thing about Fleurette is that they allow pictures and videos at every live and encourage fans to share them on the internet. Because of this, there is a lot more content out there than most small idol groups. They’re quite charming if you’re a fan of orthodox idols and their newest song, which was composed by the person who composed Snow Halation, is really good.
Fruity is a Hokkaido based, fruit themed unit that was started in 2011 and is probably the well-known group in the area, along with WHY@DOLL. They’re a big group that has gone through a lot of member changes and has a wide variety of member types and ages (they currently range from 14-27 years old). One of the current girls was almost Hokkaido’s pick for Team 8. With the name, you’d think they have a cute image, but they actually have more of a cool image. Fruity has some really good songs and if I lived in Hokkaido, I’d definitely be a Fruity wota.
Fudanjuku started in 2007 under the name Nakano Fujoshi Brothers as a concurrent unit of Nakano Fujoshi Sisters. Nakano Fujoshi Sisters was an otaku unit where the members liked things like BL, so they also made Nakano Fujoshi Brothers, where they disguised themselves as men in danso. In 2011, Nakano Fujoshi Sisters disbanded, but Nakano Fujoshi Brothers changed their name to Fudanjuku and remained active. Fudanjuku’s fans are mainly teenage and young adult girls, so I remember it was kind of a shock seeing them for the first time because I’d never heard a mostly female audience at an idol show before. When I saw them at least, they definitely played up their fujoshi roots a bit and had some “boy on boy” fanservice. That might scare some guys off, but their songs are really cool and I think most idol fans would enjoy them musically.
Fuwa Fuwa (8/4)
Fuwa Fuwa was formed in 2015 as the main group of Harajuku Ekimae Parties, a theater based in Harajuku similar to 48G or PARMS (though they only have two performances on Saturday and two on Sunday, nothing during the week). The members are pretty young (all 14-17 years old except one 22 year old), but they are all active as models and very cute. If you want an orthodox idol group with high production values and adorable girls that you can see in a theater every week, become a Fuwa Fuwa fan! There are also two other Harajuku Ekimae Parties groups at TIF this year: Harajuku Stage A and Harajuku Ekimae Parties NEXT. I chose to feature Fuwa Fuwa because I like them the most, but Harajuku Stage A has more of a cool and dance themed image so if you don’t like Fuwa Fuwa, maybe you should look them up. Harajuku Ekimae Parties NEXT seems to be the up and coming trainee group.
That’s it for part 2! Next is part 3, where I will introduce my recommended groups from H-M!