Oooh, Gekijouban Gokigen Teikoku. This one is definitely not as well-known as, say, PassCode or NMB48, but it still holds a special place in my heart nonetheless. There’s two reasons for that, the first is: their lives while I was in Japan were just so much fun I probably won’t forget them until alzheimer gets me. The second is, their YouTube channel is one of the best idol channel there is out there.
They actually actively upload several new videos everyday which are all short and silly, and just as great as they’re stupid. And you know what? There’s a reason behind that blatant silliness. If you want to find out why, just read this interview of Shirahata Ichiho, their leader! If I may say so, this girl seems to have a good head on her shoulders. And I like the way she thinks, probably because I can relate a lot. Here goes.
I hope HKYT will be forever stuck into your head.
You can find the original interview over there.
Live your life without regret!
– Shirahata Ichiho
Shirahata Ichiho, who tried her hand at a part-time job at Pizza Hut, gave us a piece of her mind about her work as a Youtuber.
Why did you become a youtuber?
I had already entered the world of entertainment when I was in my fifth year of grade school, doing modeling or acting as an entertainer until I started my idol activities three years ago.
As for why I became a Youtuber, there was a producer who knew of my unparalleled love for games. One day, he asked me “why don’t we make videos of games together?” — and from there onwards, we teamed up with a production team where I’d be the face of the program, playing games in front of a camera while the others would do the editing and all the other technical stuff. That was my debut as a youtuber.
One of the game we played was “Magic: The Gathering”, it was so fun I got completely hooked to it. Unfortunately the channel closed not even a year after it started, but I couldn’t possibly give up at this point! So I opened my own channel afterward.
I wondered how far I could get on my own, being hopeless with technology, but using softwares like “iMovie” or “Perfect Video” on my MacBook, it turned out surprisingly simple to compile and edit videos. Right now, I’m managing both my personnal channel and the channel of the idol group “Gekijouban Gokigen Teikoku” of whom I’m the leader.
What’s the appeal of doing videos?
One of the appeal of YouTube is how it allows you to meet people or have interactions you wouldn’t possibly have just by being an idol. For example, I can meet people who are interested in “games” rather than in “Shirahata Ichiho”. It’s really fun to exchange informations or news about games in the comments with other people. Plus, doing videos is a good opportunity to have an objective look at yourself. You can see your speaking habits or assess how good of a speaker you are.
On top of that, the spreading power videos have is tremendous. For example, in 2016, everyone became addicted to “Pokemon GO”, then before we knew it “PPAP” had become the new trend soon followed by “Koi Dance”. It allows you to see what the whole world is interested in in real time, and in turn, can change your own life little by little.
A video we made that worked really well recently was one of a member of “Gekijouban Gokigen Teikoku” who made herself sneeze by inserting a twisted tissue in her nose (laugh). I was surprised by how people enjoyed it despite the fact that it was so simple it wouldn’t have been able to be aired on TV. The core youtube fanbase isn’t really looking for videos that are going to make them laugh out loud, rather, they are looking for relaxing videos they can enjoy without using their head before bedtime. I, too, am doing my best when I’m standing in front of a camera to create this kind of relaxing atmosphere.
Apart from being a YouTuber, what other kind of jobs do you have?
I’m a freelance idol not attached to any of office. Be it musics, outfits or even the booking of the venues for our lives, I’m doing everything myself. Up until august 2016, I was still attached to a label, but I quickly wanted to become independant and thought had what it takes to do so, hence my current situation.
The slogan of “Gekijouban Gokigen Teikoku” is “fighting against the stress of the society”. We want to express our fans’ feelings on stage and get excited together. Then, if we can have them think things like “I’ll do my best tomorrow and live my life to its fullest!”, we couldn’t be happier. It’s possible we would be able to have more promotion and sell better if we were attached to a label, but what’s important to us is to be able to achieve something with our own hands. We’re satisfied for now.
What other part-time jobs did you have up until now?
I worked in a lot of different places. A family restaurant, a pub, a bowling place, a fast-food, at some game arcades, as a mover or in a café. The one I enjoyed the most among all of them was tending a karaoké bar specialized in anime songs. I would be cosplaying and playing drums next to the customers who would be singing. For someone like me who loves anime, it was like this job was another part of my hobby (laugh).
And, maybe it’s because I had been in the entertainment world since a young age, I’ve always been fine being in front of people. There was a time where I had to do a mic performance at a bowling place while the room was dimly lit by some ultra violet lights and people aimed for the strike. Aaah, it was fun. That’s when I noticed I liked doing MC acts in front of many people. You could say it is those various part-time experiences that lead me to my current idol activities.
What would like to do from now on?
In one of the manga I love, “Saiyuki”, there’s that famous quote: “Life is nothing but a vain struggle until death comes”. When I encountered those words, I decided that since I had been born, I might as well live my life without a single regret and enjoy it as best as I can! The fact that I became a freelancer is also a reflection of this spirit.
For the time being, I want to create more original musics and music videos for “Gekijouban Gokigen Teikoku” and have them create some buzz. Just the other day, we filmed the video for “Taisetsu na Oshirase” where we managed to gather 102 people in Shibuya. “Taisetsu na Oshirase” is the title idols give to their blogpost when they announce their graduations. Among all of the 3000 or so idol groups of this country, and especially among “underground idols” who focus on lives, it is common to see members graduate or a line-up to completely change in the span of a mere 6 months. Each time this would happen, each time their “oshimen” would graduate or a group would break up, the fans would be filled with sorrow. It is those feelings we are expressing in this song.
We got our fans to write their thoughts just as they were on a sketchbook, and we’re using that as a slideshow in our music video. The outcome ended up pretty impressive. We got sentences like “my fellow otaku friends comforted me a lot”, “I hope you give birth to healthy children” or “I’ll wait until you come back… when will that be?”. The unique comments of all of our fans helped us a lot! I think there’s no other idol music video putting their fans under the spotlight like this one, and I actually have tons of other bizarre ideas like that (laugh).
When you’re doing fun things like that, people naturally come to you. I wonder how we can repay those people and our fans… First, I think we should give shape to all of the fun things we’re thinking of and deliver them out.