Kyoko Miyake

Tokyo Idols

2017 Great Britain, Canada
90 min • Japanese. English subtitles
Theme: (freak)
15.11.2017 | Time: 17.15 | Venue: Tapio 3 | BUY TICKET

Girlfriends and religious zealots, step aside – let the worshipping of teen girls begin!

Tokyo Idols aims to shed light on the Japanese idol culture. Despite some shared similarities, it is a strange cultural phenomenon in the eyes of a Western audience. In Japan, around ten thousand teen girls that call themselves idols, and they sing, perform and flirt in front of their audience. The Japanese fanbase differs from Finnish fans: instead of preteens, the adoring crowds mainly consist of adult men who are ready to spend fortunes on their idols. Dating is considered so time-consuming that these men would rather choose an idol and simply pay to get near them. Instead of having relationships, these old men worship their idols and often in ways that seem very twisted indeed. 

Kyoko Miyake’s laudable documentary takes a critical look at Tokyo’s fan culture but does not directly condemn it. Idols, such as Rio, perform daily for webcams, tour singing competitions in small clubs or simply film themselves riding a bicycle around Japan. Fans follow, both online and on bike lanes. In addition to growing her fanbase, one of Rio’s biggest challenges seems to be growing older, or more precisely, how to avoid it – in the idol business, a twenty-year-old is already an old hag. 

The interviews, with both the ever-younger idols and their fans, who clearly suffer from Peter Pan syndrome, will mess up your brain and make you reassess your own moral judgment. What is acceptable and healthy, where are the boundaries? How do you react to a grown man who can barely keep it together when meeting a posing little girl? What the viewer takes away from the documentary lies ultimately only with the viewer. You will leave the cinema thoroughly confused and Rio’s song Banzai! Banzai! stuck in your head.