This documentary becomes depressing when it comes to profiling the fans. With the way this program is structured the men they follow are not made out to be very sympathetic figures. In fact, it is hard to really feel any sense of empathy for their individual situations at all. Viewers may find that these men have made some rather poor life choices in pursuit of what is essentially a hobby.
Koji is shown to have gone HAM on being a wota after a failed relationship and also appears to be in the middle of a mid-life crisis. He quits his salaryman job for something more menial that allows him the freedom and time to follow Rio.
He finds her as some sort of embodiment of his lost potential and to make up for the failures in his own life he tries to help her succeed with his support as a fan. Yet when asked about taking some of that inspiration and applying it to himself he gets all dark saying he only has some limited time to have fun before he gets all sorts of diseases and is unable to enjoy idols as much.
Mitacchi once had a loving relationship with his elderly parents and a significant other. That all ended once he met a member of the idol group P.IDL at a pachinko parlor cafe she was working at. After that meeting he dedicated himself to following his oshi (Yuka) and her group, abandoning his relationship and his ties with his family. In addition he abandoned any hope of saving money for the future as he spends about $2000 per month on P.IDL.
Naoyamumu is probably the only one of the three men who appears to be not too overly into his idol fandom. Or at least he hasn’t gone completely off the deep end like his contemporaries in this documentary. When asked about finding a girlfriend at his university, he simply states it is too much work and he does not want to be tied down with a relationship yet.
That statement comes into question due to his affinity for following junior idols. Which you know, might be a little not okay for some people who don’t really understand the whole idol culture.
The thing to keep in mind when watching this program is that these men do not represent all idol fans. They are the extreme end of the spectrum and are more like a representation of the stereotypical image of idol fans to outsiders.
And that is where this documentary drops the ball. While the entertainment value of watching these men is high, who they are is not really a fair look at who makes up the Japanese idol fandom. You do see the odd female fan out in the wild in the footage shown from concerts.
This documentary does not expand to other fans of either sex who may not be as hardcore as the individuals they followed, but also enjoy idols just the same.
When you take into account the scope of this documentary as stated by its director one could argue that the less than favourable image of idol fans is unintentional.
Initially, our idea was to follow a few aspiring idol singers. I also thought that I could sympathise and identify more easily with the girls as I was once a girl in Japan. And I didn’t want to have much to do with the fans even though they are the same generation. I had all sorts of preconceptions about middle-aged men who fantasize about teenage girls.
The film ended up becoming as much about their fans – the men who have become increasingly disconnected from women of their age and shy away from real relationships. Making this film really forced me to look at our generation and what we have gone through in post-bubble Japan. While I don’t condone their behavior, I now have a deeper understanding for why they act or think the way they do.
Whether unintentional or not this documentary really doesn’t do a lot to break any pre-existing stigmas. It only re-enforces the view of Japanese idol fans falling into a preset group of outdated qualifiers and ignores everyone else who doesn’t fit that mold.