Tokyo Idols, Director – Kyoko Miyake

Hmm another Japanese film. There appears to be a pattern at the film festival or at least my film selection. Tokyo Idols is about a strange but growing cult of entertainers and their fans in Japan. Idols are young girls, often very young girls who are part of popular music groups and dancers who dress provocatively and attract an audience of middle aged men, knows as otaku, who literally worship them. The idols can be as young as ten years old and by the time they reach late teenage their careers are over. The hope they have is that they will attract a growing fan base that will lead to a singing career but this is not something many will achieve. The film follows one of these “aging” idols and one of her fans – a 43 year old man. He literally worships her and spends most of his money to follow her and join her for meet and greets where he is allowed a handshake and a brief conversation. He has given up real relationships to live this fantasy life. A very strange subculture and to be honest I felt a wee bit uncomfortable watching the movie as if I was part of this group of men who might be attracted to this kind of entertainment. Creepy would describe my reaction but the whole thing was fascinating nonetheless. All this is not entirely impossible to understand given the culture that guides male and female relationships in Japanese culture and the working conditions in which men in particular are often forced to live. An escape is often desired and needed. A fascinating look at a cultural phenomenon that is very different from what we might find here but not so far away from modern cultural obsession with youth and celebrity.