noun – A person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered. (Oxford Dictionary)
I’d never thought I’d be knee-deep into the fandom of idol anime. In fact, I’m not even into idols such as AKB48 at all, but after spending the past 4 years in one of the biggest 2.5D idol fandom, I can say it’s not so bad at all.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve met with different people in this fandom. Some are nice, some are knowledgeable, some are wise, and unsurprisingly, some are pretty hard to deal with. That doesn’t mean the fandom is an uncomfortable place to be, though. I’ve joined several communities and/or fandoms before, but for me, THE IDOLM@STER fandom is probably one of the most vibrant community out there, because of its people.
You might argue that “you don’t have to be in a fandom/community to meet different kinds of people!” and I agree. We meet with different kinds of people everyday in our lives, but in a community/fandom, the circumstances are a bit different. Despite our differences, we’re somewhat connected through that one thing we’re really fond of, like a TV series for example. In this case, I’m able to meet and connect with other people through my interest in THE IDOLM@STER.
So far it has been a very exciting and fun trip for me in this fandom, and thus, let me tell you about my IM@S experience from the beginning.
2013-2014: The Humble Beginning
It all started when a friend of mine happened to spam the lyric of IDOLM@STER‘s “READY!!” on a certain online game’s chatroom. At that time, I had a very limited knowledge of THE IDOLM@STER (I had never listened to their songs and I only knew Azusa from 765), so I didn’t pay much attention to it. But later, curiosity kicked in and I found myself lurking on the internet to search more about that song. Apparently, it was the opening song for THE IDOLM@STER anime, and I decided to give the anime a try.
Overall, it was pretty enjoyable for me. It expanded my horizons on THE IDOLM@STER, especially 765PRO. After getting to know the characters and the songs, I started digging more, and stumbled upon Puchimas; a spin-off comedy manga from THE IDOLM@STER, featuring 765PRO idols with their chibi counterparts. The stupidity of each character (especially Producer) makes it a fun and hilarious watch.
In January 2014, there was a cosplay event held near my campus. Since most of my friends were gathering over there, I decided to go as well, and that’s when something hit me: “Maybe I should try cosplaying as the Producer from Puchimas! I bet it would be pretty hilarious”
Days before the event, I managed to gather the materials needed and proceeded to build my very first cosplay prop: a P-shaped head from cardboard. It was pretty rough, but I’m pretty proud of it.
Fast forward to November 2014, I decided to bring my P cosplay to a bigger event: Hellofest. Hellofest has been famous for its vast amount of cosplay aside from showcasing local creative contents, so it’s a great place to show my cosplay (and hopefully spreading IDOLM@STER awareness in the middle of the ongoing Love Live! boom)
As it turned out, I met a group of IDOLM@STER fans (commonly known as “Producers”) there. We talked a lot about IDOLM@STER stuff, took some pictures, and later I was invited to a group called “IM@S ID”, which consists of Indonesian Producers. I accepted the invitation, which marked the beginning of my journey in this fandom.
2015: A Rebellious Phase
With the huge rise of Love Live!’s popularity among local anime fans, there had been a “tension” between IDOLM@STER fans and Love Live! fans. Although I’ve previously written about how idol wars is a waste of time, I have to admit; I was also swept by the huge commotion at the time so that I ended up taking IDOLM@STER‘s side. People might call it a “war”, but actually, it’s nothing violent; just people mocking each other through memes. My “actions” were also harmless at all.
My first “action” unconsciously began in March 2015, at the annual anniversary event of the Japan Club of BINUS University, BIJAC 8. I saw one of the posters on Facebook announcing that there will be a screening of the IDOLM@STER Movie as a part of the event. I suggested an off-kai (offline meeting/gathering) for IM@S ID, but eventually the plan escalated to hosting a community booth (again, to spread IDOLM@STER awareness).
Little did we know that Love Live! Indonesian Nakama, one of the largest Love Live! group, also planned to open a community booth. And with a discussion about local fan communities also planned to take place at the event, there were rumors that IM@S ID and Love Live! Indonesian Nakama were going to go on an “all-out war”, but actually, nothing really happened in the end.
What did happen, though, with loads of IDOLM@STER goodies at hand, we went to BIJAC 8, set up our booth, and had fun for 2 days. Amusingly enough, only when we were busy setting up our booth we found out that our booth and Love Live! Indonesian Nakama’s booth were just few meters apart. We’re also invited to Forum Anime Indonesia 3 (it’s a very interesting talk show, you guys should check it out someday) and had an insightful discussion about how fandoms work in Indonesia and outside Indonesia.
August 2015 served as a huge turning point for both IDOLM@STER and Love Live! fandom, as 765PRO and µ’s performed together on the same stage in Animelo Summer Live 2015, performing songs from respective series. That performance broke the “invisible” wall dividing both fandoms.
On September 2015, Love Live!‘s 5th live concert, μ’s Go→Go! LoveLive! 2015 ~Dream Sensation!~ was live-screened in Indonesia through XXI Cinema. Personally, I don’t know much about Love Live!’s song in general, but since most of my friends were going, I figured that taking a quick peek wouldn’t hurt… even if I was wearing an IM@S shirt.
Right before I left the cinema, I met a group of fellow IDOLM@STER fans who were just walking towards the studio where the concert was being streamed. One guy noticed my shirt and approached me, asking if I’m a producer. Later, he gave me a name card and left with his friends. I took a short glance to the name card: BasuP. At that time, I didn’t have any idea on who he was… until the following year.
To be continued on the next page