Don’t take us seriously. We’re just Gaijin.

Recently, a special show was aired featuring invited foreign AKB fans who participated in quizzes, games, and chances to show off their idol fandom to a Japanese audience. While this was assuredly exciting for the fans involved, especially considering the fact that they were able to interact with the member Kuramochi Asuka, this kind of show might send the wrong sort of message to AKB members. I just wanted to write why I wished a more legitimate and serious show was made instead of one obviously made to embarrass the people involved.

The fans involved were put in situations that would embarrass them. While it’s all in good fun, it doesn’t really help the fact that they weren’t already taken seriously in the first place. It seems like they were some kind of joke for Japanese audiences to laugh at.

The show itself is obviously scripted. It was made to completely stereotype the way westerners act and behave when they are fans of a Japanese group. I really don’t think a lot of these fans actually act like this in person. I think they were prodded by the staff in order to act this way. Furthermore, their actions were further worsened by the fact that they were excited to be in the presence of the beautiful Kuramochi Asuka. Any AKS fan would freak out in this situation. Note that this may be the first time many of these people have seen an idol in person. Many overseas fans share the pain at the fact that it is really rare for us to meet an idol.

One thing that worries me is that this sends a bit of a negative message to the members. It’s clear that Kuramochi was overwhelmed by these fans. I’m afraid that members would get the wrong message about gaijin and may be a little less welcoming to foreign fans. I mean we are crazy indeed but the members of AKB probably have had very little contact with foreigners and they might see shows like this and assume that most overseas fans are crazy and socially awkward.It’s a little dangerous to have this stereotype because it just makes it harder for members to be willing to go overseas and perform in concerts.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate what the show was doing and I’m not insulting the people involved. I just hope that this doesn’t become a trend for the shows that come out featuring foreign fans. We want more shows that actually encourage overseas involvement instead of merely making fun of it. This is one of the few experiences that Japanese idol fans get to see their Western brothers and it sort of sets a bad standard. It somewhat discourages more Western involvement in AKB.

Of course, Japanese television is always like this. They like to make fun of guests and have them prance around. I would have preferred a documentary-type show with actual interviews but this obviously isn’t viable. It wouldn’t have gotten the same kind of ratings. But as an overseas fan, I’d like to be taken seriously so I have the opportunity to see AKB more often and to give AKS more money for the involvement I want.

About NSK

New School Kaidan is a community-focused website for the Japanese idol industry international fan base. Between podcasts, broadcasts, events, and analytic articles, New School Kaidan aims to bring an understanding of idol culture to the masses.

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17 comments

  1. ^
    I found a certain program in NHK — apparently it’s about cultural differences — much better in the way foreign guests were being treated with due respect.

    Outside Japan and in a vis-a-vis way, there will be always some websites that make fun of Japanese pop culture, as if the country is a freak show at a circus.

    Ontopic, some of those who got invited and flown in had serious discussion beforehand about the program and its merits, but I’m sure they’ve been paid properly to appear.

  2. As someone who was on the show I can say that a) it wasn’t scripted and b) variety shows meant to poke fun at foreigners isn’t really a new thing in the Japanese entertainment industry and is kind of just an obstacle that foreigners face in the Japanese entertainment industry.

    It’s a variety show so there’s a certain degree of campiness, but none of the show was meant to embarass us. We were informed of what they were going to do with everything we were doing and if we felt uncomfortable we were allowed to object.

    Also please consider the fact that we all speak Japanese conversationally (save Barrie and Frank), something Japanese people NEVER expect. The reaction to Mocchi was genuine because we weren’t told she would be participating.

    The purpose of the show was to show in as innocent a way as possible that Japan is popular outside of Japan. I think it did a good job.

    • Pretty much this. I was the one singing Heavy Rotation, and I enjoyed myself a lot during filming. The part I was most embarrassed by was entirely my own fault – I hit the button before I thought about the question and then realized I didn’t know the answer, oops. But the other stuff – singing, dancing, etc – I would totally have done on my own. I fought for the mic because I wanted to sing Heavy Rotation, not because they wanted to see us fighting (though I’m sure they liked seeing that). Maybe that makes us crazy/socially awkward fans, idk. But I’m happy with how it turned out.

      Also, we did the whole interview thing before the show over Skype. I embarrassed myself a whole lot more in the interviews, and I’m glad that wasn’t a big thing on the show .____.

      • Thank you so much for your response, you two! :) I was wondering how actual participants would feel about this article. I was aware that I was making a lot of assumptions but thanks for being discourse in your disagreements.

        Sorry for being mistaken about the show’s intentions but I just wanted to show my perspective. I just felt like something a bit more serious was needed considering how big of an overseas community we are. Like we should have already gotten to the point where we deserve more Western involvement. But I suppose a campy variety show is what Japan wants and it’s also what we as idol fans are already a fan of.

        Would you like me to include some of your thoughts in another article to clear up any misconceptions I had?

  3. I really enjoyed this show. There was a few things cringe-worthy at the beginning, but the show itself was enjoyable. As far as show content goes everything that was done has been done to members on AKBingo or Shuukan AKB. They’ve even done Kanji writing tests, which revealed some members aren’t very good at reading/writing Kanji.

    In my opinion, demonstrating that “gaijin” fans are just as crazy as the Japanese wota would prompt more opportunities for AKB activities outside of Japan.

  4. Anyone please tell me name of this show. I want to watch it.

  5. I watch the show, I throughly enjoyed the show. It’s really no different from the AKBINGO show with japanese Wota. I don’t understand why there is such a push for a serious look at oversea fans. This is much more interesting, showing that Wota in Japan and oversea are very similar. If they went for a serious documentary type look at oversea fans, we will likely look like a brunch of crazy Japanese-want-to-be freaks. In addition, Mochi posted about the show and stated that she throughly enjoyed her meeting with the oversea fans and delivered fans letter to other members. The show was no worse than any AKBINGO or Shukan AKB episodes.

  6. I think you are paranoid and overly concerned about Japanese perception of Western Wota.

    All the Japanese news reports of Japan Expo in Paris that I saw on YouTube were respectful, the tone one of fascination, not condescension. They seemed impressed that Westerners could sing karaoke in Japanese, and that French Momokuro fans knew all the chants.

    If you are expecting a pat on the back for liking aspects of Japanese culture, well, I think most Japanese don’t care. And I’m perfectly comfortable with that.

  7. When the initial casting call was made for this show, the AKB segment was intended to be part of a larger production involving foreign people’s knowledge of Japanese history, culture and pop culture. I would be interested to know if this show was part of a larger series about Japan, or if the final result boiled down to only the AKB and Hello Kitty segments that we’ve all seen by now.

    Honestly, I don’t think it’s feasible to take a more serious look at the gaijin fandom. All the participants knew of each other in the fan forums, but how exactly would their introductions into AKB be handled? We watch AKBingo, Shuukan AKB, and Nemousu? There’s people subbing those shows? How exactly does that work? Dentsu, Aki-P, and whoever else have to be aware of how fans keep up with the group, but I don’t believe that can be publicly acknowledged. I’d actually be willing to bet that the questions for the actual quiz were dumbed down to prevent any such topics from being discussed.

    I honestly doubt that any foreign fans could ever be featured in anything else except for a variety show. And as far as Japanese variety show’s go…this one was really, really tame.

  8. If you like some of the shirts featured on the show, you can get them here

    http://milk-tee.com/index.html

    • @jet is it possible to get the shirts in a different color other than what’s on the website? Because ‘Indigo’ was wearing a black version of the Baby! Baby! Baby! tshirt, and it didn’t list black as an option for either guys or girls, I’d buy a lot of these shirts if they were in a different color :P

      • Probably better to use the contact email on the milk-tee site for questions like this. There’s a 100% better chance of them actually reading it and responding that way.

        • I tried using the contact email on the site and it said it was an invalid email, so….idk

          • Sorry I apologize, my server fucked up my email address so I just turned to my gmail backup. Fuckin’ piece of shit.

            We plan to go through color cycles and introducing new colors eventually. We are trying to get a handful of good designs up before moving towards introducing a spectrum of colors for all of our designs.

            The biggest problem is a lot of designs must be retooled to work with dark colors.

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