I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ladybaby -- Nippon Manju (ニッポン饅頭)

I have seen everything! Well, knowing Japanese pop, I probably haven't. Still, this group takes a good chunk of the proverbial cake.

Cannot remember how I first came across this aidoru group Ladybaby. But I do remember talking with Marcos who's more knowledgeable about the current crop of aidoru than me. And we both agree that, the Alphabet groups aside, there has been this compartmentalization of aidoru over the past few years through genres as varied as heavy metal, shoegazing pop and City Pop. And the groups affected have stuck around only for a few years only to call it a day or just break up with individual members re-attaching into new groups with new identities. It's kinda like "When Enzymes Go Crazy".

Then I came across Ladybaby. As their motto went "Change the rules. Smash the boundaries". I'm not quite sure whether they were ever quite that revolutionary but the trio was unique. There were the two requisite cute aidorus in the form of Rie Kaneko(金子理江)and Rei Kuromiya(黒宮れい), but the huge third wheel on this tricycle was some hulking Australian wrestler by the name of Rick Magarey. And he was more than happy to put on his maid outfit with some makeup to boot. Gotta look for the cameras, after all.

Their first single was "Nippon Manju" (Japan Sweet Bean Bun) from July 2015. Kaneko and Kuromiya squealed away in their aidoru voices while Magarey, under his nom de guerre of Ladybeard, roared away in his best Heavy Metal growl with a similar background music arrangement. For the first time, I could imagine "cute" and "guitar shredding" in the same song.

Yup, this was definitely one niche aidoru group. It's been categorized as kawaii metal (or kawaii core or idol metal or cute metal) so I think Ladybaby belonged to the same genre as the other group BABYMETAL.

"Nippon Manju" may not approach anywhere near my Top 10 lists in anything but it definitely got my attention. Natsumi Tadano's(只野菜摘)lyrics are a walking advertisement for the Japan Travel Bureau when it comes to Tokyo and Takashi Asano's(浅野尚志)music has that cute approachable metal feeling which probably could fit in any of the more recent shows from the "Pretty Cure" franchise. Plus it's awfully hard to avoid Ladybeard.

The song got as high as No. 109 on Oricon, and Ladybaby released two more singles before Ladybeard decided to leave the group in August 2016 last year. Kaneko and Kuromiya are still together and the duo has now been dubbed as The Idol Formerly Known As LADYBABY; a riff on a former name of a legendary rock singer who sadly left us last year. As for Ladybeard, I've got no idea what he has been doing. I would suggest that he write a book, though.

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