Hajirai Rescue JPN (8/5)
Hajirai Rescue JPN started in 2013, but developed into what they are now in 2015. The concept of the group from 2015 on has been a group that transcends the general expectations of idols, including nationality and gender. They currently have a guy in the group and have previously had Canadian, Turkish, and half-Russian members. It’s cool to see an idol group that isn’t afraid to break away from the norm and their music is good too! My favorite song of theirs is Hajires Namennayo.
Hakoiri♡Musume (8/3 and 8/4)
Hakoiri Musume was formed in 2014 as a group that does covers of songs from the 1980s and 1990s, as well as original songs with a nostalgic feel. The girls range from 13-18 years old so they’re pretty removed from that time period themselves, but I adore their songs and definitely recommend giving them a listen if you’re into old school idol music.
Happy Kurukuru (8/4)
Happy Kurukuru is a unit formed in 2016 with a sci-fi, near future, and internet based concept. They describe their music as a fusion of EDM, Future Bass, dance music with a Japanese influence, and cute pop. Yunomi composes their music, so if you like CY8ER or Appare! Harajuku, you might like them. Their goal as a group is to perform a live in Alaska, which is about the most random goal I’ve ever heard. Anyway, if you like cute electronic music, listen to Happy Kurukuru.
Hitomi Suzune (8/3)
Hitomi Suzune is a solo idol based in Chiba who has been active for…a long time. I think since 2010? She’s also constantly active on SHOWROOM and I mean constantly…it seems like most of the time I’m on SHOWROOM, she is too. Hitomi writes and composes all of her songs and wants to sing songs for anime. She also does a lot of gravure, which might be a plus for some of you. Hitomi is doing free phone pictures at TIF, so you should go meet her!
Houkago Princess (8/3-8/5)
Houkago Princess is a group that started in 2011 with the concept that after 4 PM (when school lets out), they transform into princesses. They’ve had a lot of princess/storybook/fairy tale concepts, such as Swan Lake, Cinderella, Aladdin, Romeo and Juilet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Marie Antoinette, Snow White, and more. Houkago Princess has beautiful girls, a few amazing singers, and a couple girls that speak English, so they’re a great group for foreign fans.
Idol College (8/3-8/5)
Idol College was started in 2009 by the gravure magazine B.L.T. (it doesn’t stand for bacon, lettuce, and tomato) with the concept of raising the idols of the future and documenting the members’ lessons in singing, dancing, acting, and gravure so that you can see the growth processes of the members. You can actually go watch their lessons in person every Sunday, which I think is pretty cool. They’re a big group and with all the subunits included, they have something like twenty-six members. Idol College has fun songs, enjoyable lives, and pretty members.
Iginari Tohoku San (8/4 and 8/5)
Iginari Tohoku San is one of the smaller Stardust groups that I’m hoping will make it big. They were formed as a Tohoku based group in 2015, the girls range from 13-16, and they were all born in the Tohoku area. Iginari Tohoku San are really fun and I think they’re ready for a major debut. They’ve got some great songs and are at the right age for it.
Inkey Oops (8/3 and 8/4)
Inkey Oops was formed in 2017 and have a Western 80’s music and fashion concept. They use a lot of English in their songs and profiles and have the names Rinco Starr, Damon-chan, and Maron. If you’re interested in idol groups that have Western and/or 80’s aesthetics, you’ll probably love Inkey Oops.
i☆Ris was formed in 2012 as a group of voice actress and anime song singers. The name comes from the Greek word for rainbow and also the flower iris, which means delivering love in flower language. They don’t just do anime songs, but they have done theme songs and insert songs for Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live, Pripara, Sousei no Onmyouji, AKIBA’S TRIP, Idol Time Pripara, and Mahou Shoujo Site. Besides their original anime songs, i☆Ris also covers a lot of anime songs. If you like idols and anime, you might like i☆Ris.
IVOLVE started in 2017 as a mixture of the words IDOL and REVOLVE from the agency of Party Rockets GT and with the help of BiSH’s costume designer. Their sound reminds me of a less trippy sora tob sakana. Sora tob sakana fans, listen to IVOLVE!
Junjou no Afilia (8/3-8/5)
You probably know them as Afilia Saga, but they’ve changed their name to Junjou no Afilia for some dumb reason. They started in 2008 as a group to represent the Afilia Saga maid cafes, a chain where the maids are apprentice magicians going to magic school and the customers are their upperclassmen. Each of the members of the group also work at one of the cafes. They are affiliated with 5pb and thus have been represented in a lot of anime and video games. In my opinion, the Afilia costumes are some of the best idol costumes out there. If you like magical girls and maids, Junjou no Afilia might be what you’re looking for.
Junsui Cafe Latte (8/4 and 8/5)
Junsui Cafe Latte was formed in 2017 as a group with a coffee shop concept that serves smiles and streams on SHOWROOM every day. Each member individually streams on SHOWROOM every day, so you’ll almost always see one of the members on SHOWROOM. For this reason, I think they’re a really good group to get into as a foreign fan. They take SHOWROOM really seriously and even if you can’t come to their lives, they’ll treat you well if you watch a bunch of their streams.
Jyujyu was started in 2014 with a curse concept. They sing about the irrationality of the world, jealousy, envy, and the darkness of the internet. Jyujyu isn’t your typical happy or energetic idol group and their lives aren’t exactly something you’ll be jumping up and down at. If you’re in the mood for something dark, melancholy, and hauntingly beautiful, Jyujyu won’t disappoint.
Kamiyado is a Harajuku based idol group formed in 2014 with the concept of delivering kawaii, max power and energy, support, and dreams (or as they call it kawaii, max, yell, dream KMYD). The producer of the group was only 21 years old when they were formed and scouted all of the members in Harajuku. If you’re into high-energy, colorful groups, check out Kamiyado.
KAMO ga Negi wo Shotte Kuru!!! (8/3 and 8/4)
Kamonegi is another high-energy, Harajuku based group formed in 2016 with the aim of spreading kawaii culture around Japan and the world. They’re definitely similar to Appare! Harajuku and Kamiyado, so if you like one, you’ll probably like them all. Kamonegi is the most indie of the three, which means it’s probably the easiest and cheapest to interact with the members.
Kimiiro Project (8/3)
Kimiiro Project was formed in 2017 with the concept of listening to the thoughts of their fans. They started as an orthodox idol group, but change their concept based on fan feedback. Their second theme was joint ownership. Fans could take pictures and video at all of their lives and their songs were all put up online for free. Currently, their theme is summer. I think the idea of an idol group that takes fan input to heart is a cool one, even though I don’t think their songs are that great. Another cool thing is that their member Akubi designs all the costumes for the group.
Kirameki☆Unforent is a Mie based idol group that started in 2015 with the concepts of space and sparkles. Unforent is supposed to be a mashup of the words unusual, different, and unforgettable. They aim to be the number one idol group in Western Japan. Kirafore has a bit of an otherworldly sound to them and I think their music is great.
KOTO is a 19 year old solo idol that has been active as an idol since she was 14 in 2013. Even before she became an idol, she was active as a dancer who was on television and danced backup for AKB48. She can really dance and her experience in the industry makes her a great performer and great at interacting with her fans.
LinQ (8/4 and 8/5)
LinQ (pronounced link) debuted in 2011 as a Fukuoka based idol group hoping to be a bridge of smiles that connects various people, regions, and countries through actvities. LinQ stands for Love in Qsyu (Kyushu). Well, with their mass graduations and questionable managerial decisions in the last year or so, they seem more like a bridge of heartbreak than a bridge of smiles, but they just got some new members and one of the original LinQ members became the group manager, so it’ll be interesting to see what they do next. They have some great original songs, even if most of the members that fans of the group knew and loved are gone.
Lovely☆DOLL is ArcJewel’s first group and started in 2011 with a doll concept. They currently have three former 48G members: AKB48 7th generation kenkyuusei Mizuho Katono, AKB48 8th generation kenkyuusei Yuriko Sano, and NMB48 1st generation member Riona Ota. Lovely DOLL have gotten to be one of the bigger underground idol groups around and recently signed to DEARSTAGE. I’d recommend them on the basis of their music and the energy both the group and their fans bring to their lives.
lyrical school (8/3 and 8/4)
lyrical school was formed in 2010 as tengal6, but changed to their current name in 2012. They are a hip-hop idol unit that focuses on rapping. They’re pretty decent rappers and if you like cute girls and chill hip-hop, lyrical school are the group for you.
Manekikecha (or Maneki-kecak, but I hate that romanization) was formed in 2015 as a little sister group to drop with the concept of spreading good fortune to the world. Well, they managed to go well beyond what drop has ever achieved and are pretty much mainstream now, getting hundreds of thousands to millions of hits on their videos. Their music is pretty diverse; it can be silly and individualistic, but they also do a lot of slow ballads. I think most people will be able to find something they like in their discography.
monogatari was formed as Harajuku Monogatari in 2015, but changed their name to monogatari this year. They have the concept of a young group (average age is 15) with members that are both very pretty and talented performers. I’m normally not a fan of idol groups with an average age that low, but monogatari has some of the best dancers I’ve ever seen in an idol group, some great singers, and really good songs. Seriously, check out monogatari.
Moso Calibration (8/5)
Moso Calibration is the other main DEARSTAGE unit (next to Dempagumi.inc) and was formed in 2013. They signed with Sony Music in 2016 and since then, have had their songs featured in several anime and have taken on more of an EDM sound. I still like their music, but their pre-Sony stuff is some of the best idol music out there. Mocali’s first album, Moso Shoujo OO, might be my favorite idol album ever. It’s a shame that they’ve “sold out”, but they’re still a fun group to see live.
That’s it for part three. Stay tuned for part four, where I will give my recommendations from N-S.