A Look at LGBT+ (Male) Jpop Idols | LGBT History Month

Idols often can't even be open about something as simple as being in a romantic relationship, so I'm sure you can imagine how difficult it would be for an idol to come out as being LGBT+. Honestly there are lots of idols who I'd be willing to bet money on the fact that they're gay (or otherwise not straight) but obviously can't admit to it for fear of it negatively impacting their career and/or other's opinions of them.

While it's not an extremely common thing, there are a handful of male idols who are out and proud and even some groups that use being LGBT+ as a large part of their concept, making it their mission to raise awareness about LGBT+ issues around Japan. Let's take a look at some of these idols in this post. Also fun fact: I didn't actually know that February was LGBT History Month when I planned to do this post, haha.


It has been hinted at by other members of the group and their producer KEN. alike that KOHEY -- member of this month's featured group BUZZ-ER. -- is bisexual. This concept was explored in a series of short videos they did in conjunction with their second single "Waltz", where KOHEY is portrayed as having feelings for fellow member SHALF while the latter is oblivious to it and is in a relationship with a girl. While KOHEY himself has never outright said he's bisexual, here's a quote from him that heavily suggests as such:

"If I like a person, I will like them for who they are NOT what they are. If they're a good and kind person, then I don't mind falling in love with that person." 

Source: Jpop Amino

 
Next on the list is a group which has now unfortunately disbanded but are still very much worth mentioning. SECRET GUYZ was a 3-member male idol group from Stardust Promotion. The twist however, was that all three of the members were FTM transgender. They performed at many Pride events and their aim was to increase knowledge and acceptance of transgender people in Japan.


Another 3-member group, ENVii GABRIELLA are an independent unit made up solely of gay men. All of the members previously worked as soloist in other areas.

An Introduction to BUZZ-ER. | Group of the Month February 2019

Hey there, idol fans! February's featured group is a somewhat underground group that has caught my attention recently and that group is BUZZ-ER.! Let's take a look at this buzzing rookie group. Sorry/not sorry for the pun.


BUZZ-ER. is a 7-member Japanese male idol group that made their debut in 2017 with the indie single "CAN U FEEL IT?". The group is produced by solo artist KEN. and they seem to already have relationships with other quite significant boy groups (such as Da-iCE and X4), mainly due to KEN. being well-connected in the industry. The group's name was chosen because they wanted to create a "buzz" in the world of Jpop.


 "Waltz", the first music video the group released.


Members

 


 

HAU


Date of Birth: 1997.11.14

  • He is actually fully Vietnamese.
  • He's a former member of G-EYE, a sub-unit of G=AGE.
  • Very precious and loves all the members dearly.


KOHEY


Date of Birth: 1996.07.19

  • He is a former member of Team Dot (KEN.'s backup dancers).
  • He is also a model.
  • It has actually been hinted at by members of the group as well as KEN. that's he's bisexual but it's never been officially confirmed.


SHUN


Date of Birth: 1996.04.18

  • One of the main vocalists within the group.
  • He loves fashion and wants to be a model.
  • Loves food and likes to try all different kinds of exotic foods.

Upcoming Jpop Boy Group Releases for February 2019

Here are all of the upcoming music releases by Jpop boy groups for the month of February 2019. To have all of the latest releases and news sent straight to your inbox once a month be sure to subscribe to the Dansei Idol Girl e-mail newsletter!


M!LK - Time Capsule


Release: 2019.02.06

Type: Album

Buy on CDJapan


MADKID - RISE


Release: 2019.02.06

Type: Single

Buy on CDJapan


CUBERS - Hajimete no CUBERS


Release: 2019.02.13

Type: Album

Buy on CDJapan


UNIONE - REVIVE


Release: 2019.02.13

Type: Single

Love is Illegal | The No Dating Rule For Idols and the Muroi Kazuma Scandal

The no dating rule is something a lot of us simply accept as idol fans. While it's more common amoung female idol groups, there are some male idol agencies that also have this rule or at least have some restrictions or guidelines (such as not being seen in public with the person they're dating etc.).

On the one hand it does make sense. A big part of the appeal of idols is that they appear 'available' to their fans. Not gonna lie, I often kid myself into thinking that Nishioka Kengo would totally fall head over heels in love with me if only it weren't for the distance and the fact that he's an idol keeping us apart. Knowing that your favourite idol actually has a girlfriend can kind of ruin that illusion. It's also a matter of keeping everyone involved safe as some idol fans have been known to get a little possessive of their idols, leading to some dangerous situations.

But then sometimes you get to hear the opinion's of those who aren't as 'desensitized' to the whole concept and it makes you take a step back. Remember a few years ago when AKB48 member Minegishi Minami was found out to have slept with a man against the agencies contract, and she ended up shaving her head and making a very tearful apology video? The scandal ended up making it into a few mainstream news outlets in other countries, probably being a lot of people's first introduction to Japanese idol culture.

People's reactions did make me see things in a new light. How moral is the 'no dating rule' really? There is literally no other job I can think of where it would be acceptable for your employer to dictate your romantic relationships, so why is this okay for idols? I guess it reinforces the idea that people often expect idols to be like 'blank slates' almost, that fans can bend to their will and project their own desires onto without taking into account the actual idol's feelings.

What led me to write this post now of all times? Well, just last month it came to light that a member of underground male idol group Amatou Danshi had gotten married in secret. It was clearly stated in the agency's contract that no relationships are allowed, yet Muroi Kazuma had been dating this woman for some time and they eventually decided to elope. The really strange thing about this situation though is that instead of simply firing him, the agency at first decided to put his fate in the hands of fans by asking people on Twitter to vote in a poll about whether or not they thought he should be fired.


A Look at Foreign and Mixed Male Jpop Idols

Hey there, idol fan! Today's post is a look at foreign or mixed boys in the Japanese idol industry, AKA another post all about me crying over my half idol babies. Why does SOU love half idols so much? A mystery.

But in all serious, having a member who's foreign can definitely add a bit of 'international flavour' to a group and can make the group seen more accessible to fans who aren't Japanese. It could be useful for Japanese people as well, as it could allow them to learn more about different cultures that they otherwise wouldn't come into contact with. Or maybe none of that matters and it's all just for Japanese people who have a foreigner fetish.


But whatever the reason, let's take a look at a few foreign or mixed boys in the Jpop idol industry!


We can't have a post about foreign male Jpop idols without mentioning Marius Yo. Marius is the youngest member of Johnny's Entertainment group Sexy Zone. Not only that but he currently holds the record for being the youngest boy to ever debut from Johnny's and the first boy to debut who isn't fully Japanese. Marius is half-German, a quarter Japanese, and a quarter Chinese and was born and raised in Germany. He moved to Japan to pursue his career as an idol.

Although I don't really follow Johnny's Entertainment anymore, Marius remains a special exception for me. He seems very sweet and down to earth, and his worldly background makes him very 'woke' to a lot of issues. I hope he'll continue to shock us by doing a lot of amazing things that we never would have expected (like when he made a guest appearance on the American sitcom Fuller House).


The next boy that comes to mind is Jean Kaito, lead rapper of EBiDAN group SUPER★DRAGON. Jean is half-Turkish and seemingly speaks Spanish.

Anyone who knows me knows how incredibly biased I am towards Jean. He's not the type of idol I usually tend to like at all, yet his whole "I try to act like a bad boy but am actually a huge dork" vibe just gets to me somehow. I made direct eye contact with him both times that I saw SUPER★DRAGON when I was Japan, but where other idols were really shook to see a black person in the audience, Jean just seemed completely unimpressed with my presence. It was wonderful.


Also from EBiDAN, we have Knight Andrew who is a member of the KiDS group ZeBRASTAR. Knight is half-British and speaks English fluently. Interestingly he was actually born in Hong Kong and seems to travel regularly. Queue more bias from me on account of the fact that we're both British. There is also half-American AMEZARI member Jay.

EBiDAN as a whole does seem to have quite a few foreign and mixed members although most of them seem to be in the trainee department (BATTLE BOYS) currently, such as half-American Jeffrey Malone. I hope EBiDAN will end up debuting more of their foreign boys in the near future. Does anyone else remember Dennis?

A group with just one foreign member isn't enough though, right? G=AGE had two. If that statement rings true for you then COLORFUUUL's got you covered. COLORFUUUL boast as being Japan's very first all-foreign male idol group. There have been many changes in lineup since the group was first unveiled but the group is currently scouting for new members. The only member we know of currently is Roma who's from France (and is adorable) but more is sure to be revealed very soon.

An Introduction to INTERSECTION | Group of the Month January 2019

Hey there, idol fans and welcome to our first Group of the Month post of 2019! Since a large part of what this blog's about is bridging the gap between the Japanese entertainment industry and international fans, I thought INTERSECTION would be a great group to start off this new year with. I'm planning for the whole of January to be a bit of a foreign idol-themed month actually, but we'll see how that goes. I'm very excited for this coming year as I have a lot of ideas about how I want to expand Dansei Idol Girl so I hope you'll all stick around for the ride. But anyway, let's start getting to know our featured group for this month, INTERSECTION!



INTERSECTION is a 4-member boy group that was formed in 2015 but made their major debut in 2018 with the single "Heart of Gold". All of the members are of Japanese-American descent and they primarly sing in English. They are the first and currently only group under a subsidiary of Avex called The Whole Earth Connection, and the group's aim seems to be the encouragement of diversity in Japan.



Starting Over, the frst music video that the group released.

Members

 

Mika Hashizume


Date of Birth: 1998.12.21

Place of Birth: Hawaii 

  • The leader and oldest member.
  • He was born in Hawaii and lived there until the age of 16. 
  • Has a background in both sports and music. He initially dreamed of becoming a professional soccer player.

Kazuma Mitchell


Date of Birth: 2000.05.15

Place of Birth: New York

  • He's a model for the men's fashion magazine MEN'S NON-NO.
  • He's currently attending Harvard University.
  • He moved from New York to Japan when he was 8-years-old.

Upcoming Jpop Boy Group Releases for January 2019

Here are all of the upcoming music releases by Jpop boy groups for the month of January 2019. To have all of the latest releases and news sent straight to your inbox once a month be sure to subscribe to the Dansei Idol Girl e-mail newsletter!


SparQlew - Bring it on!


Release: 2019.01.01

Type: Album 

Buy on CDJapan


 JUNRETSU - Propose ~Arigatou BOX~


Release: 2019.01.09

Type: Album

Buy on CDJapan


Shitsuji Kagekidan - Ring


Release: 2019.01.09

Type: Album

Buy on CDJapan>


BUZZ-ER. - Connected


Release: 2019.01.23

Type: Album

Idol Rewind | My Top 5 Jpop Boy Group Releases of 2018

Another year of fangirling done, except this wasn't just any other year. Within EBiDAN specifically there were quite a few sad times with members leaving left and right (check out Angi's post about that here) but we also had some huge accomplishments for our boys like with Bullet Train's MAMA performance. MEN'S PANIC -- a festival just for male idols -- was held for the first time and on a more personal note my lifelong dream of going to Japan finally came true. DA PUMP broke the Oricon charts with an unexpected jam and we also had the debut of Japan's very first all-foreign male idol group. I wonder what 2019 will hold for us? But before we start thinking about that let's take a look back at 2018 with a few of my favourite releases from this year.



 1. SUPER★DRAGON - Monster!

"Monster!" is the 3rd single from SUPER★DRAGON and has to be my favourite of their releases thus far, not just because of the main song but all of the coupling songs are extremely lit. I'm always going on about "Get Treasure Journey" but seriously, if you haven't already do yourself a favor and listen to it.



2. SUPER★DRAGON - SWEET DEVIL

"SWEET DEVIL" is SUPER★DRAGON's 4th single and it had just come out around the time that I was in Japan so the group performed it both times that I saw them live during my trip. Hearing both the main song and the single's coupling tracks brings back great memories of both lives and is a large part of what's made SUPER★DRAGON my favourite group this year (RIP M!LK).



3. MAG!C☆PRINCE - Bel!ever

The main reason I like this one is probably because it's now available internationally on both iTunes and Spotify. All of the songs are jams. Buy the album. Stan Magipri.

Watch Out for the Jams | My Top 5 Da-iCE Songs

Hey there, idol fans! If you're looking for some song recommendations for this month's featured group then look no further. Today I'll be sharing with you all my top 5 songs by Da-iCE. Let's get started!



1. BILLION DREAMS

The main song from Da-iCE's fifth major single, "BILLION DREAMS" is a total jam. It's one of the songs that gets stuck in your head for days after just listening to it once.



2. WATCH OUT

The first song by Da-iCE I ever came across and it caused me to fall in love with them instantly. It's catchy as heck and I love the English version just as much as the Japanese. The B-side track from this single, "Sora" is also pretty amazing and both songs take me back to around the time when Da-iCE had their first ever overseas live in the US.



3. Splash

I'm a sucker for a good debut song and "Splash" definitely does not disappoint. From the group's self-titled indie debut mini album, this one is always a crowd-pleaser at lives.


An Introduction to Da-iCE | Group of the Month December 2018

Hey there, idol fans! I can't believe it's December already. Or Da-iCEmber as we're calling it here on DIG (I'm sorry, haha). That's right, our featured group this month is Da-iCE! Click here to see last month's group, ANTIME and be sure to subscribe to the Dansei Idol Girl newsletter to be ready for the first newsletter and Group of the Month of 2019. But anyway, let's get to getting to know Da-iCE (that was kind of a weird sentence)!


Da-iCE (pronounced 'dice') is a 5-member Jpop boy group under Avex made up of two vocalists and three dancers  (called 'performers'). They made their indie debut in 2012 with the self-titled mini album "Da-iCE". Their major debut though, was in 2014 with the single "Shout It Out". The idea behind the group's name is that each of the five members represent five sides of a dice, and the sixth side is represented by their fans.

The 'a-i' in their name ('ai' meaning 'love' in Japanese) is written in lowercase to represent the love from their fans, and fans of the group are known as a-i. They are a very well-loved group among overseas fans (and Kpop fans too), probably due to their modern-sounding songs, impressive vocal range and dance skills, and their accessibility and eagerness to gain fans outside of Japan. Their songs are available on iTunes and Spotify, and in 2016 they even performed live at an anime convention in the US.


The music video for "Hush Hush", the group's third major single.


Members


Wada Hayate


Position: Performer

Date of Birth: 1994.02.03

Hometown: Gunma Prefecture
  • The baby of the group.
  • Despite being the youngest he's the most experienced dancer.
  • Known for being very quiet and shy.



Hanamura Souta


Position: Vocalist

Date of Birth: 1990.08.15

Hometown: Hyogo Prefecture
  • Probably the member that gets bullied by the others the most.
  • Known for his high yet powerful voice.
  • Is nicknamed Murata but hates it, he prefers the nickname HanaSou (but no-one actually calls him that).



Ohno Yudai


Position: Vocalist

Date of Birth: 1989.04.01

Hometown: Aichi Prefecture
  • He was the one who came up with the group's name and the idea behind it.
  • He was previously a member of an acapella group called Fukkin Gakuen.
  • He's also an actor and acted alongside fellow member Hayate in the drama "Asuko March".
(Fun extra: I find it kind of amusing that his name sounds like "oh no you die" in English)

Upcoming Jpop Boy Group Releases for December 2018

Here are all of the upcoming music releases by Jpop boy groups for the month of December 2018. To have all of the latest releases and news sent straight to your inbox once a month be sure to subscribe to the Dansei Idol Girl e-mail newsletter!



FANTASTICS from EXILE TRIBE - OVER DRIVE


Release: 2018.12.05

Type: Single

Buy on CDJapan


MAG!C☆PRINCE - Bel!ever 


Release: 2018.12.05

Type: Album

Buy on CDJapan


MATSURI nine. - Gatten Shake!


Release: 2018.12.05

Type: Single

Buy on CDJapan


DA PUMP - THANX!!!!!! Neo Best of DA PUMP


Release: 2018.12.12

Type: Album



A Look at Former Johnny's Entertainment Members in the Entertainment Industry

It's more or less accepted that Johnny's Entertainment controls pretty much the entire entertainment industry in Japan. Anything that's released with the Johnny's name on it instantly going straight to number one on the charts, virtually every male lead in any currently airing drama is bound to be a Johnny's, and if Johnny's views any particular artist as a threat they can literally get them banned from all of the popular music programmes with just a request. Basically, no matter how hard you try to hide from JE as a Japanese entertainment fan you're still probably going to be assaulted by them from all angles.

With all of this media coverage and an almost cult-like following of dedicated and loyal fans, it's no surprise that JE doesn't have any real competition. Non-JE Jpop boy groups certainly do exist (hence this entire blog, haha) and do have their place but none of them have even gotten close to JE's legacy. That begs the question; what happens if a boy decides to leave Johnny's, realizing it's not for him (*cough* or gets kicked out *cough*) but still wants to be an idol? Would he still be able to find success? Is any other agency besides JE inevitably a down-grade? Let's find out by taking a look at a few of the more notable instances of ex-Johnny's going on to join other idol (or some non-idol) groups.

The first I'll mention is now Bullet Train (Choutokkyuu) member, Funatsu Ryoga. Ryoga was a member of Johnny's Jr. around 2006. After leaving the agency, he later in 2012 debuted as a member of Bullet Train and is now the leader of the group. Bullet Train has gone on to become one of EBiDAN's most popular groups and seems to be one of the most popular non-Johnny's boy groups overall. It should be noted that EBiDAN as a whole seems to be developing quite a legacy although on a smaller scale than Johnny's of course.

Lead singer of the ever-popular rock band ONE OK ROCK, Takahiro Moriuchi -- or Taka, as he is known professionally -- was the first member to leave JE group NEWS in 2003, having left even before they released their debut single. Taka is an example of a former Johnny's boy finding a huge amount of success -- what with ONE OK ROCK's large fanbase both in Japan and overseas -- yet maybe that has something to with him abandoning the 'idol' path for something a bit less restricting.

Morimoto Ryutaro -- once a member of JE group Hey! Say! JUMP but in 2011 was "let go" due to an underage smoking scandal -- made his return to the entertainment industry in 2016 as a member and the producer of male idol group ZERO. Almost two years later there's still no sign of the group releasing any CDs but they seem to be fairly active on social media and doing live performances.


Smile for the People | Asian Idols and Mental Health

TW: Suicide mention


This is a topic that is often at the back of my mind as an idol fan but after the recent news that King & Prince member Iwahashi Genki will be taking a break from the group due to struggling with panic disorder, I finally decided to sit down and write this post. First a bit of my personal background in regards to idols and mental health.

As a lot of us here in the online world seem to do, I suffered from mental health issues for a long time. I won't get too specific about what those issues were as that isn't the purpose of this post but I did talk about some of it in one of my posts last month, and the rest you can probably guess. It was in 2016 though that I sank to the lowest point I've ever been at. I was hardly leaving my house (or even my bedroom for that matter) and that's when idols came back into my life.

Back in 2012 I had been a huge Johnny's Entertainment fan but eventually lost interest. It was during one of those days in 2016 though that I was sat at home feeling depressed that I decided to get out my old Sexy Zone DVDs. After a brief trip down memory lane (checking out old Johnny's stuff and new stuff that had come out since I left the fandom), I started to discover lots of new boy groups outside of Johnny's Entertainment that I became very passionate about (I'm sure most of you know about The G=AGE Era) and long story short, that was how this blog was started. My love of idols just gave me something to smile about on those dark, lonely days where nothing about the future seemed certain and it also gave me that support I needed when I was ready to start coming out of that and making positive changes for myself.

Iwahashi Genki was actually one of my favourite Juniors back in my Johnny's days. He was so sweet, shy, and awkward and I suppose I emphasized with him a bit due to his history of being bullied and being unable to attend school due to his anxiety around the bullying. As far as I know Genki never mentioned having any sort of anxiety disorder but I could always sort of tell; like with how obviously nervous he would get before performances and the like, often getting stomach aches.


I was surprised when he ended up becoming quite popular, forming a sort of pair with Jinguji Yuta (another one of my favourite Juniors) but I was happy for him. When I heard he was debuting as part of King & Prince, of course I was happy but part of me did wonder whether he'd be able to cope, as while being a trainee is no walk in the park either, it must be a very different experience from being a member of a debuted group.

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