OVID.tv Presents TOKYO IDOLS Film Review — A Look Inside the J-Pop Idol World

We see a hallway view of an idol setting up for her live makeup show with soft plushies in every corner

Penlights fill the crowd as Hiiragi Rio performs, creating an image reminiscent of thousands of stars dotting the galaxy. A few meters away, her fan club screams out with passion. Hiiragi adjusts her blouse and takes off her worn-out shoes while giving cheerful encouragement and gratitude to the members of her fan club.  There are a couple more sets left until the fan meet is over and those in the crowd are free to go. Not Hiiragi though, her schedule is still busy with spirited handshake events and dynamic after-show livestreams.

“As of 2017, there are about 10,000 teenage girls who call themselves idols in Japan” is one of the first statements in the title sequence of Tokyo Idols before the viewers follow the bustling life of said teen girls. Throughout the film, the experience of not only the idols but their fan club is shown.  We see  a hallway view of an idol setting up for her live makeup show with soft plushies in every corner, and also the hard work of Koji, a Rio Hiiragi’s fan club member who attends every one of her shows.  We also get a short glimpse from the perspective of the idol’s parents.

Phrases such as “I wanted someone to talk to” and “I never felt so passionate about anything in my life” are brought to life through the crowd angles and joyful conversations about the fans’ idols. The linear and chronological narrative allows us to experience growth and hardship along with the idols.  Long and uncut scenes craft the illusions of long workdays and slow passage of time.

OVID.tv’s TOKYO IDOLS Showcases the Struggles in The Industry

In this documentary film, Director Kyoko Miyake conveys the various sentiments and concerns surrounding the progressively public idol culture established throughout Japan. With unbiased depictions of all the key players in this industry -- from solo acts, to aspirants, to popular groups such as AKB48. Miyake presents the growing pains of not only the performers, but those around them. Intimate interviews and daily vlog-like pacing gives a full picture of the aspirations and trains of thought that idols like Hiiragi Rio experience.

In this writer’s opinion, through the display of an assortment of views from fans, sociologists, producers, and performers, Tokyo Idols provides a sympathetic inside look at the effects of this isolating lifestyle filled with pressures and expectations that many in the J-pop industry, and young fan girls alike, experience.

Those looking for rounded accounts and untold stories of everyday life and scuffles are sure to appreciate the themes of tales told through Tokyo Idols.


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Director and Writer Kyoko Miyake
Editor Anna Price
Composer David Drury
Sound Designer Tyler Fitzmaurice
Director of Photography Van Royko
Line Producer Valerie Shamash
Post Production Supervisors Edmund Duff / Victor Sandrasaga


Rio Hiiragi
Yuzuha Oda
Masayoshi Sakai

To watch the film, visit the OVID.tv page for TOKYO IDOLS


Images courtesy of OVID.tv


Ellen Hernandez

About the Author: Ellen Hernandez

With a love for music, film and communications, Ellen Hernandez enjoys spending hours online to search for new artists and movies during her free time. Miss Hernandez is also fond of doing translations for some of her favorite musicians ever since falling in love with linguistics and interpreting back in 2019. Outside of entertainment, she often searches for new fun topics regarding public pedagogy and culture.

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