Once upon a time, a certain idol producer, who used to sing in a rock band and dabbles in making videogames, met another producer. This second fellow really knows his stuff when it comes to making videogames and has a stake in a chain of idol cafés. They decided they liked one another and became friends. Later, over a giant bowl of ramen, they decided to go into business together. Thus Akihabara Backstage Pass was born.
While that origin story is completely fictional (although there’s a fair chance ramen was involved), it’s the kind of feeling one might have when looking at this relatively new idol initiative. On one side we have Tsunku♂, of Hello!Project & Sharan Q fame, as well as numerous other side projects and on the other we have Chiyomaru Shikura, executive director of video game manufacturer 5pb and one of the masterminds behind the Afilia Saga East idol group. Their creative minds put together results in Akihabara Backstage pass, yet another take on the J-idol.
Starting in 2011, both of them have been scouring Akihabara and its surroundings for fresh talent to take part in their creative endeavour. At the same time they’ve also given many underground and indie idol groups some much needed exposure through their efforts. Both of them have brought in some of their veteran idols (THE Possible for Tsunku♂ & Afilia Saga East for Chiyomaru) to oversee the process. Their doings can be watched through the late night TV-show “Tsuntube” which later gets rebroadcast on Youtube for free viewing.
Visitors to the cafe will be issued an employee ID card to the imaginary management company, “Ruaido Geinousha”, a play on words of the word ‘idol’ (aidoru). As ‘producers’, any foods, drinks, or goods purchased in the cafe will earn the customer “Producer Value Points”, which they can then use to support their ‘oshimen‘ out of the cafe’s workers. Aspiring idols working at the cafe will be given booking preference for outside activities if they accrue a high number of points. As customers climb through the ten “Producer Ranks”, they will be able to earn more points and therefore contribute more to these potential idols.
The first idol group to debut out of the café is Bakusute Sotokanda Icchome, a 17 member idol group who will be releasing their first single “Produce” under Leidix Records on August 1.
The song is certainly something in line with Tsunku♂’s other recent musical exploits. Something from his hyper/happy fase. It would fit in nicely with some of the musical stylings Hello!Project is employing at the moment, which is no surprise. The music video has some nice touches. It’s set in the Akihabara Backstage Pass Café itself and features all the members of the café’s Idol Cast. The polaroid snapshop at the end is a nod to the two-shots you can take with members of the Idol Cast if you accrue a certain number of points. The single is handily available on CDJapan (the limited edition comes with the music video and an introduction video of the Bakusute Sotokanda Icchome members).
All in all I’m quite looking forward to see how this all plays out in the future. Any Tsunku♂ project is worth following in my opinion and the fact that Chiyomaru (whose Afilia Saga East are one of the idol groups to watch out for these days) is involved only heightens my curiosity.