We need to have a talk about Ladybaby

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As Ladybaby’s world tour kicks off in New York, Garry has some questions about the group that no one else seems to be asking.


Okay so I’ll just say this straight up, I don’t get Ladybaby. Then again, there’s a lot of things in the world of Japanese pop culture that I don’t get. Maybe that’s just something that happens when you become an old man like me. You’re just not down with the kids anymore.

Seriously though, what is the appeal to this group? People keep saying they’re the next Babymetal but what does that even mean? I got what Babymetal were trying to do really easily. They’re three cute looking girls doing heavy metal music with heavy metal gimmicks, the whole idea is to play off the contrast between those two things. It also helps that they do it really well.

Ladybaby on the other hand are a cross-dressing guy and two young girls singing pop songs. Although to be fair, Ladybeard is a fairly well known personality in Japan so perhaps I sold him a bit short there. Kuromiya Rei is also fairly famous in certain circles too but more on that later. My point is, I don’t get what they’re trying to do here. The best I can come up with is it’s just another one of those “Japan’s so crazy!” things. Yes, it seems like we’re still beating that tired old horse until there’s nothing left but a soupy puddle on the ground.

If you need actual validation for this claim, let’s just consider the facts. The group blew up almost instantly online, legitimately or not is anyone’s guess. Now, just a scant few months later they’re going on a worldwide tour after having released just one single. Unlike Babymetal who I think we can agree have a lasting draw, this smacks of trying to cash in on your hype before your fifteen minutes of fame rapidly run out.

Speaking of Ladybeard, why is no one in the western media making any kind of deal over how he’s in this group with two young girls? If we’re totally honest, “If this were anywhere else, people would be making a huge deal out of it!”. Not that I’m for one second suggesting that anything inappropriate is going on, after all I could get sued for defamation because I live in this “great” family of nations called Britain. I just find it interesting that all of these journalists saw this huge former pro wrestler and no one thought “Hey, wait a minute…”

Maybe the world is just changing for the better. Even if that is the case, I find it incredibly hard to believe that not one single news website picked up on Kuromiya Rei’s other means of making some pocket money. There’s potentially a huge story and discussion right there for the taking. It’s not like her other job is even particularly hard to find, with even the most basic Google search of her name providing plenty of hits.

You see Miss Rei, who is currently 14 years old, does this thing where she gets photographed and videoed wearing very little clothing. I believe the term is U-15 gravure which is basically provocative underwear/swimsuit modelling that gets bought by a certain demographic to do who knows what with. It is (or at least was before Japan started cracking down in preparation for the 2020 Olympics) a fairly big industry with various stores and websites peddling all manner of CDs, DVDs and other items.

This isn’t even a recent thing for Kuromiya, not that it would make it any less eyebrow raising. From what I understand she’s been doing this kind of thing for almost half of her life. I’m not really sure what kind of parents let their child pose half naked to be ogled at by perverts, even if it could be a way to get into the entertainment industry, but that’s a whole other article. The fact is, not one news article thought to mention this.

The third part of this equation, Kaneko Rie is positively normal by comparison. Unlike the other members of the group, she’s taken the much more conventional way of breaking into the entertainment industry. Entering missiD, lending her face and voice to various projects, all fairly typical things for someone on the path to stardom to do. Her perseverance being even more impressive given the recent passing of her father. Something else I’m surprised news outlets didn’t really pick up on for whatever reason.

Getting back on track, the whole Rei business does strike me as odd because let’s face it, news outlets are always crawling around in the gutter looking for the dirtiest dirt they can find. I thought for sure VICE would have been all over this like they were with that one video/article series they did a few months back about idols and young girls in Japan being sexualized and all the rest.

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It was a great headline but I don’t seem to recall VICE actually DOING much in the moment or the aftermath. I don’t claim to know the inner workings of VICE, but I’d say with a decent amount of certainty that they probably didn’t donate any of the money they made from that series to any of those poor, objectified girls. In fact, it could even be argued that VICE themselves took advantage of the girls they featured in their videos. Again, a topic for another article perhaps.

Ultimately, this whole thing comes down to lazy journalism and that’s honestly what bothers me the most. I guess that’s how the news works these days. A headline, a link to a Youtube video or maybe a Vine but no substance or actual investigation. So many opportunities for investigative, thought provoking journalism just pass all of these hacks by because why take any pride in your work? They still get paid disgusting amounts of money anyway.

The current state of journalism makes me glad that I gave up that career path to focus on something else. Sure the money might be nice but I think my soul is probably worth just a little bit more. With a few exceptions, there’s no honor or value in reporting anymore.

 
What are your thoughts on the points raised here? Did you perhaps not know of or consider some of these things? Leave a comment and let us know.

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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