Image Source: 876TV on YouTube
The iDOLM@STER is a gigantic franchise within Japan that mainly revolves around thirteen girls working as idols and the producer that works to make them stars. The original thirteen girls starred in two television anime and a feature film. And in the past few years, the franchise has spawned multiple smartphone game spinoffs, including The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls—which inspired two additional television anime series—and Million Live. Both feature a much larger cast of girls to train and love. The series even inspired a female-oriented spinoff featuring a plenitude of attractive male idols titled THE iDOLM@STER: SideM, which has popularity in its own right.
Despite the popularity of The iDOLM@STER in Japan, unfortunately, the series never gained ground in the West–especially in places like North America and Europe. The iDOLM@STER is dead in the West, some say.
A personal fan of The iDOLM@STER myself, when I saw Twitter user Kurotsuki’s content pop up on my feed one day, I was intrigued. Wait, there are other The iDOLM@STER fans in the West?
— Chris/黒月@Otakuthon16 (@Kurotsuki) April 9, 2016
As time passed, I saw how dedicated he was to the franchise. I mean, this guy was going to concerts and events all around the world to meet the iDOLM@STER voice actresses, including going to Kawaii Kon in Hawaii to take an awesome photo with voice actress Asami Shimoda (seen in the tweet above), who played the twin idols Ami and Mami Futami. I was so inspired that I messaged him on Twitter back during Anime Expo 2016 and asked if he could spare some time for a little interview about his life and dedication as an anime fan.
Can you tell me your name and where you’re from?
I’m known online as Kurotsuki. My real name’s Chris. I’m from Canada… Montreal.
How did you get into anime in general?
My father used to work for the United Nations, so we’ve traveled a lot, and I used to live in a country called Benin. It’s a small country in Africa. We had anime on TV when I was a kid, so I’ve been an anime fan for like… 25 years now, I believe.
So I see you’re really passionate about The iDOLM@STER, and that’s a passion I share too. However, it wasn’t available outside Japan until fairly recently, so many long-time fans had interesting ways of getting into it. How did you get into it, and where did you start?
I heard about The iDOLM@STER when [The iDOLM@STER] Xenoglassia was airing, and… Well, I’m a robot fan, usually. I was curious about the original source for The iDOLM@STER, because I knew it was a game, so I went on Nico Nico Douga and YouTube and started watching videos, and at first it was interesting to see those because for me it was silly costumes and silly girls and silly things like that; I didn’t really understand it… until I found the song called “relations.” And “relations” changed my entire view of The iDOLM@STER, and I started getting more curious about it. I bought CDs, I listened to it more and more, and I completely fell in love.
So you liked the first series? Was that where you came into it?
What makes The iDOLM@STER so great?
The music. For me, The iDOLM@STER is all about the music. But there’s another part of The iDOLM@STER: It’s the fans. I think that the iDOLM@STER community is really tied together, and… Well, so what we do is we go to concerts and going to concerts for iDOLM@STER is an entirely different experience than going to a concert for, let’s say, T.M. Revolution. Everybody has their glow sticks. It’s an insane view, and it’s a feeling that you share the same feeling with all these other people. That’s what makes The iDOLM@STER special to me.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be doing too well in the west.
How do you think the franchise can turn itself around, or can it at all?
It’s a question we ask ourselves a lot in the western community. I think that one of the main appeals of iDOLM@STER is the games. The games have been selling well in Japan, and right now, the franchise seems to be gearing toward mobile games. [Bandai Namco Entertainment] have released a game called [The iDOLM@STER] Cinderella Girls: Starlight Stage, and all of my friends play it. Everybody that I know plays Starlight Stage, but it’s not available in English, so I think that if that game were to be available in English it would definitely reach more people. The same way that Love Live! reached a lot of people in North America… because they actually released the [smartphone] application in English.
— Chris/黒月@Otakuthon16 (@Kurotsuki) May 13, 2016
So, what are some of your other passions? I saw a picture of you with a JAM Project itasha (seen above).
I’m a crazy huge fan of JAM Project. It’s weird, because it doesn’t really mix with idols, I guess. (laughs) But yeah, I’m a huge fan of JAM Project. Actually, I love anisong (Note: Anisong is short-form for the words “anime song,” or songs featured in anime) in general because I’ve been watching anime for the past 25 years. A lot of what I listen to are anisongs. So JAM Project is my favorite… I used to love UVERWORLD… I haven’t listened to them in a long time, though. I love angela, and… That’s about it.
Basically, you’re a big music fan.
Big, big music fan. Yeah.
So I heard you went to Anisong World Matsuri. If Anisong World Matsuri were to be held again next year, what artists would you like to see?
Definitely angela. Kalafina… I love Kalafina. They’re one of my favorite artists. There are so many artists I would love to see, but I think there’s also the fact that I’m not sure how anisong are doing here in North America. So, it would probably be a lot of the same artists. Eir Aoi… She’s very famous… Nowadays, there’s a lot of seiyū who sing. So, probably something like TrySail. They’re not very well-known right now, but I feel like they have the training to get bigger and come to North America. And… Michi! I’ve heard Michi more and more this weekend, and I fell in love with her. I feel like she has her place on the anisong stage.
Sorry, I almost forgot the most important one: Minori Chihara.
Ah, she’s good! I love “Defection.” Moving on, what is your “way of the anime fan?” What kind of fan would you say you are?
I’m a crazy fan. (laughs) I’m the type of crazy person that goes to Japan for the weekend just to see a concert. I know and recognize that not everyone can follow that path… I think I followed the same path as most people in North America who have been into anime for a long time. I started with fansubs, but as I grew older and got a steady job, I started buying a lot of Blu-rays to support the North American industry, and I love Crunchyroll and what ACJ is doing with Daisuki too. I really support all of those things, and I really encourage everyone to do that. I put a lot of money into anime because I love it and I would love for it to continue forever.
You can check out Kurotsuki/Chris’ adventures in Japanese culture at his Twitter account: @kurotsuki.