Hey, NSK community! I’ve wanted to write one of these for a while. My introduction to idols may not be as extensive as the others but it has had a profound impact of my life. I hope you enjoy this article and maybe learn a little bit more about me.
I suppose the best place to start this article was my introduction into the internet otaku culture. This took place when I was in middle school. Like many kids that age, I was pretty angst-y and didn’t feel like I fit in among my peers. I didn’t have a whole lot of friends so I didn’t go out very much. So what did I do with my free time? Well, I spent it playing video games and on the Gametrailers forums. I spent a lot of my time there trying to be funnier than I actually was, trying to be popular, complaining about my life and all the other stupid things 12 year olds usually do online. Since video game and otaku culture often merge it wasn’t long until I was introduced to anime.
I took to anime very well since some of my favorite childhood cartoons were shows like Pokemon and Digimon. The anime “Lucky Star” was extremely popular at the time so I decided to give it a try. While my first choice of subbed anime was admittedly a bit…odd, it got me comfortable with the anime culture very quickly. From there on, I continued on to other light-hearted anime such as “GTO” and “Azumanga Daioh.” I was proud to be called an “otaku” despite how foolish that was. It’s what lead to my current username which stuck namely because I’ve been too lazy to think of a new original one.
Eventually, I was introduced to Japanese music through my forum use. Through happenstance, I stumbled upon users heavily promoting groups like Halcali, Genki Rockets and PUFFY. At the time, I was only interested in metal and electronic music but I really enjoyed the positivity and energy of these groups. It paralleled the reason I got into anime in the first place and it left me wanting more.
From there on, I went on the hunt for more Japanese pop somewhat stupidly. I got into the habit of googling and Youtubing the terms “jpop” and “japanese music” which didn’t really give a lot of results I was interested in. But eventually, I did find what I was looking for. I came upon a site titled jpopasia.com which offered streams of the latest Japanese music. This was how I became a huge fan of SCANDAL, Perfume, Capsule and other mainstream Japanese artists.
My searches also resulted in me finding several dance covers on Youtube which resulted in my first exposure to idols. Many of the covers were of H!P groups like Morning Musume and Buono. At the time, I had no idea what an idol was and even found the music to be kind of childish. But I had to admit the music was really catchy so I subscribed to a few channels. Through the related videos, I stumbled upon clips of Ayaka’s Surprise English Lesson. These vids were extremely addicting despite me feeling kind of strange whilst watching them. The girls were charming and while I knew nothing about them, I liked seeing glimpses of their personality.
Soon, I entered high school where I was a little bit better socially but still had a lot of free time. I started following FourplayerPodcast around this time. I lurked the stream almost every night and through David I first heard of the name “AKB48.” And guess what. I never looked into it. Why? Because I thought the name was unappealing.
It wasn’t until the end of freshman year that I noticed that many dance covers were starting to be of AKB48 songs. I decided to give them another shot and really took to the song and choreography of “RIVER” but I didn’t investigate their discography further. To me, they were just another j-pop group.
A year or so after that, my mother broke the news that she was planning to move us to Malaysia due to our financial issues. I was scared of a new life in a country I’d only ever been to for a month at a time. But looking back at it, I am happy that I lived there. The experience matured me, made me more worldly, taught me to think more positively and of course, this was when I became an idol fan.
For the first several months, I didn’t have an internet connection in my new home. I had to visit cafes and fast food joints in order to use internet. It got absolutely boring to be at home. My one solace were podcasts that I downloaded whenever I got an internet connection. I’d spend hours of my free time replaying podcasts while honing my minesweeper skills. This was when I decided to check out “Japancast Academy”, the podcast David kept advertising on 4PlayerPodcast. I already had an interest in Japanese music so I thought I could learn more this way.
It was a pretty rough start. I didn’t really know any of the concepts they talked about. However, I kept listening because I really enjoyed the chemistry David, Dae, and Tron had. Eventually, I started downloading PVs off of Youtube and started using impressions on the podcast to learn the names. Since I listened to a podcast about 20 times in order to kill time, this taught me a lot about AKB48. Although, I did make a few mistakes such as confusing Oshima Yuko with Maeda Atsuko. After a while of this, I started downloading subtitled AKBINGO! episodes on Youtube in order to help me learn the members faster. There were only like 3 or so subtitled episodes on Youtube at the time and I must have watched them at least a dozen times each.
Once I finally got internet installed in my home, I started a massive downloading spree of subtitled AKBINGO! and Shukan episodes. As the months went by, I started to recognize most of the senbatsu members. Thanks to the podcast, I got into other idol groups like Momoiro Clover and Tokyo Girls Style and I soon became a full-fledged idol fan with my very own oshimen.
So, that’s my story. It was all thanks to my time in video game forums, 4playerpodcast and, of course, New School Kaidan. I’m so happy to be an idol fan. It has made me happier, more motivated, less stressed, and even more accepting. I’ve met a lot of cool people online since I made the transition from New School Kaidan community member to staff. I think we’re one of the closest online communities out there and I hope that never changes. And I hope I meet some of you if I can ever find funds to go to an idol concert. Sigh. Oh well! Thanks for reading!