By now, I’m pretty sure you’ve been wondering what MADKID has been up to. Maybe a few of you have been wondering what I have been up to and why I haven’t been really talking about MADKID as much as I used to in these past few months and talk about something else. 1 Talking about other groups and artists and anything else that’s not quite related to your fan Twitter account is common though. There’s nothing wrong with getting into and talking about other groups besides MADKID. Even my most dedicated Axcel friends out of all the current Axcels talk about different groups. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that even myself is leaning towards that route as all the other fans around the world on SNS too. 2
In relation to this blog post’s title, we are nearing the end of the 2010 decade. In just a few weeks from this writing, we will be entering a brand-new decade of 2020. Things change rapidly in every decade and that’s just how the flow of life works. We see something new or even decide to bring something buried from the past and re-introducing it to the new decade in this decades-long evolving pop culture. Since I don’t have anything else to talk about regarding MADKID besides my latest post and the posts before that, I’ll just talk about a few of my thoughts about J-Pop in general and that one other fandom that I was closely following since mid-late September, right after I met and experienced MADKID back at the Crunchyroll Expo 2019.
The Revival of Talent Audition & Survival Shows in J-Pop
K-Pop today is also known for their series of idol survival shows such as PRODUCE 101, Unpretty Rap Star, Idol School, so on and so forth. Most K-Pop fans today would probably think that Korea has started these on-air idol training/recruitment variety shows in which the audience get to see the development of one average person into an idol pop star, but once again, as a long-time J-Pop fan, I have to rebuke that. Once upon a time in the early days of late 20th-early 21st Century J-Pop, there were a few named idol survival shows that existed. One such famous J-Pop idol survival show was ASAYAN, which was aired back in 1995 and ended its run in 2002. I didn’t get into J-Pop until I was in university and Korean classmates from my Japanese language class introduced me to J-Pop back in around 1996 with girl groups such as SPEED, Super Monkeys, and MAX. And then I got into boy groups from DA PUMP to Johnny’s idol boy groups. The rest is history. In the 1997 season of ASAYAN, now-famed J-Pop girl group Morning Musume was formed from that season.
Fast-forward till 2019 when MNet 3 sold the PD101 rights to Yoshimoto Kogyo, 4 one of Japan’s oldest entertainment conglomerates and group of talent agencies, known for managing comedians, comedy duos, and top-named actors and actresses, to produce the Japan version of the Korean popular idol survival show as their way of investing into J-Pop. China already has their versions of PD 101 5 and now Japan creates their own take of the Korean survival show with a simple title: PRODUCE 101 JAPAN.
After 3 months of this show, the final group has been formed under the name JO1. Their official debut is slated this coming spring 2020. Now, I want to explain how or why I started following this series besides killing the “hiatus” period with MADKID not announcing anything new at that time. It wasn’t because I’m a fan of PD101 or anything. My curiosity peaked months before that when I caught some MADKID members chatting with some WhiteA members and a few of their other friends in the indie/underground circle 6 about some of their friends auditioning as trainees for PDJP. There was probably more, but they did drop a few names that I decided to be curious and follow them during the show (if they make it in the show then): Honda Kosuke, 7Shiroiwa Ruki, 8Uehara Jun, 9Urano Shuta, 10Sano Fumiya, 11 and Kawashiri Ren. 12 In the end, among those six friends, only Ruki and Ren made it in to JO1. 13
After PDJP, there is another talent audition survival show called YoruYoung. I created a separate Twitter account for JO1 and explained about YoruYoung. Next year, there is another one called G-Egg, which is a joint survival show between Japanese and Korean idols/artists forming one boy group. There’s not much info on how the format and concept will go just yet, but the trainees were already revealed. Lastly, I even read that Korean/K-Pop agency giant JYP is expanding their operations to Japan and will also be having a survival show of some sort to form their very first J-Pop group under their management. We still don’t have much info about this one.
And so, this is what we’ll be expecting in the new decade of J-Pop – idol/talent survival shows has returned to the J-Pop scene.
If an Axcel becomes a multifan with another group who happens to have strong connections to that Axcel’s MADKID bias, then it’s very easy to become a multifan. At least with Ruki and Ren in JO1, they had a past with MADKID and a lot of their fellow brother groups like WhiteA and the disbanded groups like YsR, that it’s easy for many of us fans of these groups to be able to support JO1. Most of my closest Axcel friends are multifans themselves and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But on the other hand right now, both MADKID and JO1 don’t have much new content. However, this is a good chance for me and many JO1 fans (especially those who are new to J-Pop) to share our other favorite groups such as MADKID to them. Going all competitive against other fandoms of other J-Pop groups simply doesn’t exist. If you don’t like a certain group, you don’t need to show to the world how much you don’t like them. Not only that you’re disrespecting that certain group and their fans, but you’re also disrespecting your own biases and your own fellow fans as well, so please, keep all of that to yourselves and focus on supporting your favorites.
I may be also become a fan of the upcoming group that’ll come out from G-Egg as well. One of the trainees in there, one named Kudo Shohei is from another one of MADKID’s brother groups, SELLOUT. Once again, as an underground/indies J-Pop fan and following most of MADKID’s contemporaries, I’m keeping an eye on G-Egg as well.
I don’t know when I’ll write again. This may probably be the final post for AXCEL STYLE in the year 2019. Hopefully I’d be able to write again with some MADKID news when we get them, hopefully sometime in January 2020.
Merry Christmas and a Happy Holidays. Happy New Year as well. See you next year!
Even though the featured image for this personal blog entry has YUKI in it, this post is NOT about YUKI. For this entry, I’m going to talk about my personal thoughts and views regarding art in general. I felt prompted to write about this because recently, thanks to MADKID’s new photo shots that they’re currently using on their social media accounts, my very dormant digital art mojo suddenly woke up. For a while now, I started creating digital art based on those photos and all their other photos currently existing all around the cloud.
Since Crunchyroll Expo, MADKID kind of went on the down-low. Usually around this time, the last few months of the year, this always happens. After all, in the entertainment world, we all deserve a long hiatus break, especially if you’re (almost) a self-produced artist like MADKID. But, “hiatus” doesn’t usually always mean “long vacation” from their field. It can also mean they’re out there doing side projects 1 while also working for new material to be (possibly) released next year. Let’s also keep in mind that they have their one-man live coming up soon in February 2020, so that’s definitely something to look forward to.
At the same time, MADKID also gave us Axcels a break from getting so hyped with them and buying all the merch as we can 2 and also spreading news and updates about MADKID in different languages. They also gave us an opportunity to spend more time in our real-life days 3 and also try something new. I’m currently doing both of them, but I made sure I have my Twitter notifications on so that I don’t miss any tweets that the MADKID official twitter and even tweets from all the members.
My Personal Art History
As for trying something new while MADKID is on the down-low, I did try something new: creating fan art. I have a confession to make regarding art – I’m not like most fan artists where they can do character illustrations by hand or even by digital art using computer graphics software like Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Illustrator CC, Procreate, Affinity Designer, Clip Studio Paint, etc. I want to get used to using a drawing tablet, but I need something more high end like WACOM Cintiq so it’s much easier to use a drawing tablet as if I’m actually drawing using a traditional pen and paper.
I think my traditional art forte is lettering. I can create eye-catching artwork with words and letters alone. In some way, it’s kind of like creating a painting art or pencil art, but I play with decorative letters, not character creation or portraits of people. There is a formal term for this particular of art. It’s called Lettering. And as a lettering artist, one of my goals is to create my own set of fonts that people could use for their digital designs. The thing is, I’m not very good at using the right tools and software. I have to figure out how to use them for projects like these. But, as everyday life goes, I don’t have any time to spend just to self-teach myself how to use these tools. 4
Along with Lettering, I also do a form of art therapy: zentangles, mandalas, zendalas, and adult coloring books. These are some of the methods of relaxation and destressing or times when I just wanted to not be in front of the computer and simply relax. But lately, my baby nephew has been visiting our house more frequently, so I spend more time with the baby than working on some traditional art. One of my goals is to get an adult coloring book published with some of my zentangle, mandala, and zendala designs in them so that others can do their coloring magic on them, just like how I was with other adult coloring books that I could find.
The most precious necessary element that every living human being must have is time. Because of the nature of my work and the things going on with my life outside the internet, I don’t have time to sit down and take the time to practice or learn how to do character/portrait art, let alone learning how to paint or even do simple shading with the pencil, charcoal, pastel, etc. And the sad part too is that I have plenty of traditional art tools that I can use for all of these: pencils, colored pencils, highlighters, metallic pens, gel pens, markers of almost every kind, etc. 5
Lastly, I do simple digital art. It’s mostly photo manipulation, and that’s what exactly is. However, you can also use original photos as templates for you to trace over to create shapes and then use your coloring magic with these shapes. It sounds easy, but if you’re not familiar with using the digital software that you have, you’ll even have a hard time accomplishing this first step. At first, I thought that people would look at me as a “wanna-be” if all of my best artwork turns out to be digital fan art. That was some years ago when digital art is still in its early stages. Today, even the greatest of all the artists around the world are strictly digital artists. It’s not because they “cheat” by using something that’s automated, but because they have good eye, good imagination, and good perspective on the scene or subject that they want to create art on, but also because they know how to use their graphics software properly, just like how an artist would be skillful in using their tools, like your easel, paint, and paintbrush.
The pros and cons of traditional art vs. digital art
TRADITIONAL ART PROS:
Handmade – only your imagination and your hands can create something fresh, natural, and original.
So many tools and instruments to choose from, which not only includes your pens, markers, or brushes, but also includes the type of paper you’re using or other surfaces like plastic, wood, etc.
You have the freedom to do a lot of customizations with your art, where you can add your magical signature into it, which is something no other can copy or replicate. This even includes framing or packaging your art if you were to give (or sell) to someone else.
You can sell your art at a hefty price due to its originality and rarity. If you create your artwork by hand, no one else can replicate it because you add your own personal magic to it. With that personal magic, your artwork becomes one of a kind.
TRADITIONAL ART CONS:
Traditional artwork takes a very long time to create. Not all of us have all the time in the world to create art.
High chances of making mistakes – if you use an eraser to erase your pencil marks, the paper may get damaged. Or worse, you would have to tear down the paper you used and then start fresh with another one.
Art tools and instruments are expensive. The higher your quality, the more expensive of the tools and instruments you would need to spend. Sometimes, certain types of high quality tools and instruments are not found in your local stores and would have to search online all over and order them online.
There are learning curves on taking care of your new tools and instruments, especially if you’ve never used them before. You would have to take the time to practice and get used to them.
Not everyone can gain or improve their artistic skills regardless of how much time they spend practicing. Some individuals may not have the artistic flair hidden in them, no matter how much they practice. 6
DIGITAL ART PROS:
Save time – using a computer graphics software can automate everything that you would need to do by hand. You can even edit the finished result if you want to add your flair at a faster time.
Different types of graphics software that you can choose. Sometimes, all you need is just one particular software to do all of your artwork.
Save space in your room and on your desk. You won’t have to deal with the clutter or organization of traditional art tools and instruments.
You have the option of purchasing extra hardware, such as a drawing tablet peripheral or even a tablet device like an iPad or Kindle Fire, to have a much more natural control of your digital art.
If you are a traditional artist and would love your artwork to be digital, you can also combine both. For example, you draw your art in pencil, scan it using a scanner/printer, import it in your graphics software, and trace/color over your scan.
DIGITAL ART CONS:
Even though it’s mentioned that you can save time in making the same art style using a graphics software compared to the artwork you’d normally use your hands on, creating an art using a graphics software still takes a lot of time, just like how you create your art by hand.
The costs and expenses are also high, however, you can save money in comparison to purchasing traditional arts and tools. You’ve got an all-in-one graphics software that you can use tools like pencil, pen, marker, watercolor, paint, etc.
There are learning curves on how to use your chosen graphics software. In fact, not all graphics software are the same. For example, Adobe Photoshop primarily focuses on photo edits and manipulation, as well as creating rasterized graphics 7 for presentations, flyers, etc. Adobe Illustrator is an all-out illustration program, where you can create all your graphics using vector from scratch. So, for example, if you want to create your custom anime character on the computer, you can use Adobe Illustrator for that. Mentioning this, for those who aren’t tech-savvy, even learning how to use the program properly would take you a long time before you can even begin creating your digital art.
So, in short from those lists, both traditional art and digital art are pretty much the same. They’re both art, no matter how much you look at it. Because of this, I’m no longer worried about being called a “wanna-be artist” and gained my confidence in making my own fan art style using original photos as references and still be considered a fan artist. 😅
I will continue writing more about digital art and traditional art on my art and stories blog, Adri Mars INK, sometime, if you are interested in getting to know more.
I have three locations where I post some of my art. I may start posting some of my MADKID fan art in one of these accounts. You can check them out yourself if you like:
YOU-TA once said on Twitter and even on their official LINE Blog regarding fan dedication to MADKID. He said that you don’t need to do the most extreme to show everyone how much of a fan that you are. There are different ways for you to show your love for MADKID: attend all of their concerts and lives, go to fan meets, talk about them on SNS channels like Twitter and Instagram, talk to the members directly on SNS channels just to say hi, 8write letters and send gifts to them, and create fan art and crafts of MADKID and/or your favorite member. You can even do the rarest method of showing love for MADKID by building a fansite and blog dedicated to MADKID and/or your favorite member like AXCEL STYLE or go all out with your artistic flair by creating fan art of the group and/or your favorite member. The methods of showing your love for MADKID are simply endless!
And also, who says you can only do one when you can do many of them from time to time? So far, here’s what I’ve done for MADKID since I became an Axcel back in April 2018:
Follow them on Twitter and Instagram: RT, tweet the members, etc.
Go to their personal livestreams and chill and talk with them.
Wake up at 3-4 am PST just to watch MAD MUSIC on LINE LIVE and whatever livestream that they have as a group (SWISH, etc.)
Write short fanfic of SHIN at J-Pop Amino as part of their weekly challenges
Build a blog that ended up expanding into a full-blown fansite (AXCEL STYLE)
Create a separate Twitter and Instagram account to translate some of the news and updates relevant to international Axcels
Now, during the down-low period of MADKID, I add these to my personal list:
Create digital fan art of MADKID
Create original graphics of MADKID as freebie downloads for use on SNS channels like profile pics
Participate in NaNoWriMo to write a longer MADKID fanfic 9
I was super happy when I received some positive feedback from fellow Axcels who normally make fanart for the guys, even if I used Photoshop and Illustrator to create them. Not only that, even general digital artists also praised some of my basic artwork too. Once I started experimenting with a group image using some basic watercolor effect, I couldn’t stop working on them. Because of that, I decided to open a separate Instagram account that would house all of my MADKID fan art and graphics. I’ll eventually embed my IG gallery somewhere here on AXCEL STYLE, but you can always check out the IG itself and follow me.
If you enjoyed the YUKI mixed media digital fanart that I made, I’m very happy. I promise to make more of a similar feel for the rest of the members too. Best of all, the model himself RT’d this sweet art. 🥰
I could go on and on with my digital art methods, but then this is a MADKID fansite/blog and it wouldn’t be about MADKID anymore, so I’ll just write about that on my Adri Mars INK blog instead.
Lastly, thank you for all your love and support for MADKID. I mean, thank you also for giving me some support of any kind for letting me continue on with this site and being able to share all the news and updates about MADKID and our boys. But remember, MADKID is the priority in this case. When you want to share some news and info about them, be sure you refer to them by linking, tagging, or RTing the original source.
That’s all for today. I’m out to make more fan art!
I’m working remotely again at a very small and quaint neighborhood coffee shop near my workplace 1 and since then, not only that I’m going through my usual work duties, but I’ve also been busy doing some maintenance on my other existing sites. I know, it’s been over two weeks since the end of Crunchyroll Expo (CRX) 2019. Two weeks since I’ve met MADKID (briefly), watched them perform for the first time on stage, and even with just two songs, the locals of my hometown and avid anime con participants 2 absolutely, positively, zettai3 loved them. And because of that, MADKID vowed that they will absolutely, positively, zettai return to San Jose and continue to expand to other cities and countries around the world. This is what I call low-key world domination.
I actually had a different title for the second part of my previous The AXCEL Side post. I would originally call it Do you know the way to your MADKID bias’ heart? More on the meaning behind this tentative title, but because it would be just too awkward, I decided to leave the original title with the #2 next to it. Even though I’ve already written about their live day on the current What’s Happening? post, this particular post will be a more detailed version— everything including the fangirling. You’ve already been warned.
Without further ado, let’s go!
[9/1/2019 – CRX Final Day]
We actually didn’t find out the full schedule of MADKID’s appearance until the day before. There was a TBA on the Shield Hero guests autograph session during the final hour of CRX and we all assumed that MADKID would be one of those guests who will be having that autograph session. However, we checked on the CRX app to check out MADKID’s profile and it turns out that their event in the late afternoon wasn’t an autograph session, but another performance at the Nightclub area of the convention center.
I was a bit saddened that there won’t be any photos taken or autographs signed, 4 but we did have a high chance of watching the guys take on the stage again on a more personal level. No hosts and no interview questions from others. Just MADKID, the Axcels, and the rest of the audience still unfamiliar with MADKID. 5 Still, we couldn’t wait to see the guys twice in one day on the final day of CRX.
Because I left early for church the day before, I did remind my friends that I will be picking them up between 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. Usually my mom and I would go to Mass at 10:00 am on Sundays, but because of the distance between my actual hometown 6 and my second hometown 7, plus picking up the friends from their hotels, we’d probably have a hard time looking for parking and even line up at the Shield Hero panel. I think choosing to go to mass the day before was the best decision I made, plus my mom would have the entire Sunday to rest. 8 I arrived at Karu’s hotel at about 8:30 a.m. Then at around 8:25 a.m., I picked up our visiting Axcel friends from Japan from their hotels.
While we were driving at the downtown streets, LIN came online on IG Live. It was actually the first time that I’ve joined his IG live. My friends and I blushed a bit when we realized that he was livestreaming in the restroom with him shirtless and right in the bathtub. Weeks before, 9 I was worried about the hot weather and the jetlag that the guys would face, most especially with LIN, as summer is his least favorite season and he tends to get sick during this time. But when I saw him at the bathtub of his hotel suite, he glowed like he had a fresh awakening and looked more like a Bay Area local than a visitor from Japan. He was all smiles, looking really good, he even told his Japanese Axcel fans online to “leave him alone” because it’s about 9:00 a.m. PDT, it’s very bright and early morning, and he’s completely awake, super refreshed, and good to go for their first live events later today at CRX. When he was done getting dressed, he even showed off some of the merch he copped from the Artist Gallery and the Exhibits areas of CRX the day before. Like every eager otaku around, he shopped all night till he dropped. While he was getting ready, he was also watching the local news. Ironically, it was the same local news channel that my family would normally watch every morning and every night. 10
I was told by some Axcels living in Asia that YOU-TA also came on IG Live at around 3:00 a.m. PDT because he was having trouble falling asleep. He did mention that the other four members assimilated to the time zones and overcame the jetlag very quick and all four of them are sound asleep by the time he came on. Someone asked him if he’s going to be okay because their first live will be the next day during lunch hours. He mentioned that he and the guys are already used to staying up all the way past midnight for practice and work back in Japan, so taking on the San Jose sunshine was peanuts for them. With LIN being up, bright, and early, the guys are definitely ready to take on their overseas debut challenge.
The parking garage that was within the SJSU campus area was quite empty, which is kind of surprising for me. I wondered where many of the CRX participants would park, probably at the parking garage of the convention center, but it’s fun to walk around the surrounding areas of downtown.
We had coffee at their branch of Philz Coffee 11 (the one next door to Gong Cha) and its next-door breakfast and mini-brunch spot, La Lune Sucree. Thinking it would already be crowded because of CRX, that wasn’t the case. It was quiet, mellow, very relaxing morning with that familiar cool Bay Area breeze under the very bright sunny sky. Our Japanese friends praised the San Jose weather since they landed here: a perfect summer day.
After breakfast, we decided to walk around downtown again for some more IG-worthy shots, since we have about 2 hours before 11 am. 12 At around 10:00 a.m., we decided to walk to the convention center. We got at the entrance at about 10:30. We were on foot after all.
LIVE EVENT #1: The Rising of the Shield Hero Special Stage Panel
When we got inside, we headed to the restroom first, freshened ourselves up, checked the maps to find the location where the Shield Hero panel was going to take place. We thought about exploring about CRX first, but because of the time and other factors, we decided to go ahead and line up at the Grand Ballroom on the second floor. When we got there, there were a few people already lined up, and the line was divided into eight (?) rectangular boxes. Although there weren’t that many people, we decided to line up at the third box from the door so we don’t cut in front of the others who were already there. 13
Around fifteen minutes until 12 p.m., the staff guarding the door and watching the lines began squeezing everyone together to fill in the spaces of the boxes. We were standing on the third box but because of the compression, we ended up moving to the first box. At this point, we had a chance to get up to the front so that the guys would immediately see us. Once the doors opened, everyone rushed to the front quickly without supervision. Luckily, the ladies and I managed to snag the second row from the center to the left side of the stage. Looking around the people surrounding us, I noted that the people in front of us aren’t just Shield Hero fans, but were also MADKID fans. One of the guys was watching one of the release event fancams of the guys on his phone, showing it to his female friend 14. Right at the front row, specifically in front of one of my Japanese friends, were two Axcels who also flew here from Japan. 15 One of them was a YUKI bias, the one wearing a custom-made “Shin-chan” shirt was obvious.
While waiting for the show to start, I was also going through the thoughts of how the guys would be received by the massive crowd of predominantly Shield Hero fans, considering that they are a boy band. There have been some boy bands who did cover anime opening themes and ending themes, 16 but with such a badass anime like Shield Hero, in some way, it’s a little hard to imagine that a boy band would perform both opening themes for the first season of the series. In addition, I know that they will have an interpreter to help them out with the more complicated English when needed, but I also pray that the interpreter would give the boys justice with their words being spoken through the mic. We expected a break between the two songs (interview) as well, and I did hope that the panel would give them that break interview so everyone at the audience would get to know them better.
Lastly, I also thought about how MADKID and the Japanese Axcels who flew all the way here 17 would also see us SF Bay Area locals and just the general American otaku community. This was actually one of my major concerns as Karu and I were preparing for this major event in our lives as long-time Axcels. Especially for me, who lives a lot closer to San Jose than Karu, in a way, I put the pressure on me to be a real representative of the small number of Axcels growing here in the Bay. In a way, I’m just like SHIN when it comes to home – proud to represent our hometown, him proud to be from Miyazaki, me being proud of being from the Bay.
Right when we heard MADKID being announced out loud, all of those thoughts and worries faded away when the audience roared out with cheers and excitement to see the boys on stage. All smartphones were out and began to take photos and video of the boys’ performance of “RISE.” 18 They wore their “RISE” outfits from earlier this year with the black and red, just like how they wore those same outfits from their Animelo event back in Japan just a few days ago before they flew here. I was told by Karu months ago on how Japanese fans react on live events and release events in general, 19 but because they were now on foreign soil, most especially the U.S., American audiences don’t do the “silence till prompted to get loud” on concerts. Beforehand, I also thought about how MADKID would react when the audience does get really loud during their performance.
Not a problem. They felt it, they let themselves get into the vibe. The boys succeeded in performing “RISE” then. Sadly, the host asked us to turn off our phones as videos and photos from the panel weren’t allowed. The footage that my friends and I took from their “RISE” panel performance will have to wait till probably— in October. Watch the YouTube channel for it.
And just as I prayed, MADKID did get that break interview with the host. All of the questions asked them were about “RISE,” “FAITH,” and Shield Hero in general. All of their answers were very inspiring, as the group completely related to the plot, where they all started from nothing and are gradually rising up to fame. During this brief interview (I think it was about 10-15 minutes interview), I was keeping my eyes on all five of them and not just my bias. However, even my friends have been noticing this, my bias 20 have been keeping his eyes right in our direction. One of our Japanese friends sitting next to me even pointed that he wasn’t just staring at our direction, he was specifically staring right at me. I got nervous immediately, just as how I got nervous once he called my name out the day before at SJSU, but when I gazed right at him, we both had eye contact with each other and he smiled brightly, the same exact smile that he gave me when he called me out the day before. At that time, I felt like I got myself lost somewhere and I was in that different dimension when there was no one else around me except me and him with some random thoughts of “OMG SHIN OMG!!” and “SHIN, DON’T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT PLEASE!!” 21 Kind of like those trance scenes in shoujo manga/anime, huh? 😂 I ended up returning the smile at him, and he smiled even more. 22 Still, I distributed my gazes at every member, but all this time, I was told that he had my eyes on me throughout the entire interview.
After that break interview, the boys performed “FAITH,” to conclude their segment of the panel. The performance was equally hyped as their “RISE” performance and the very packed audience were completely into them. It was completely surreal, a major eye-opener. After they were finished, my inner conscious wanted to see more of them. Luckily, they had another live performance in the late afternoon at the Nightclub. The rest of the panel was more interviews and talk about their experiences behind the scenes with the anime.
Just moments before the end of the panel, the announcements came about of a Season 2 and Season 3 of the anime currently in production. It’s what the majority of the Shield Hero fans wanted. I also (secretly) wanted that also, as I’ve been more or less keeping up with the series without watching the anime as much. 23 Naofumi’s, Raphtalia’s, and Filo’s stories are far from over, and they deserve to have more of their adventures known through animated visuals. In the end, they called MADKID back to the stage for a group photo.
According to YOU-TA’s tweet later that afternoon, there were about 2000 people who showed up at the panel, meaning there were 2000 people who saw them perform. In turn, 2000 people showed their hype and excitement during their performance. He hinted that this short panel with only the guys performing two songs had a much larger audience than the venues of their past one-man lives and live tours. Overall, their first live event of the day turned out very successful.
Their next overseas test – the Nightclub.
LIVE EVENT #2: Nightclub
The Shield Hero panel ended at around 1:30 p.m., so we had late lunch. Karu and one of our Japanese Axcel friends scouted around the nightclub area while our Shin-biased Japanese Axcel friend and myself stayed at the dining area having a quick lunch of hotdogs and bottled water. We got to know each other more and she taught me how it’s like to be an Axcel in Japan. She also shared me some tidbits about SHIN and his behavior and reactions towards his own fangirls during release events, one-man live events, and joint events such as the seasonal SWISH concerts. She said to me that she also noticed how he kept his eyes throughout the entire 10-15 min. interview towards me and her reaction to that was that I really deserved to be noticed by him, starting from the day before and even today. She said she already had these moments with him where he would also give long-time glances at her while he was on stage from the past, and because this was the first time I saw him and MADKID on stage and in real life, she advised me to think about this particular day as the “SHIN & Adrianne Day.” I’ll spare all the other details and move on forward.
Around 3:00 p.m., we decided to head to the nightclub directly and just wait for 30 minutes there, resting, chilling, until MADKID steps up on stage again. The stage was much smaller than the one at the panel, and that even though there were tables and seats at the sides of the stage, the central area was an open floor. We planned that we would stand there, front and center so that we have the full view. When we arrived, there was another event going on – an anime/J-Pop karaoke event. There weren’t that many people around and we started to get a bit worried that the Nightclub event may not be as big or crowded as the one at the panel.
About 10 minutes before the show began, a huge mob of people started moving forward towards the stage. Because we were already waiting at the left side of the stage, we decided to remain where we were standing. Unlike the panel, where we weren’t allowed to take photos and video, we’re able to do so here at the Nightclub. Before the show began, we all observed that the nightclub was massively another full house.
Since I’ve already uploaded their entire performance from that same day, here it is again.
Singing along with MADKID, if you’re familiar with the song(s), is normal. You would sing along too. Besides, YOU-TA (as you can see in the video) called out for us to sing along, so sing along, we did. Everyone also screamed, so I screamed also. Much to my surprise, our Japanese Axcel friends joined in the screaming like no one really cares. After all, no one really cares, not even the guys themselves care. 😏
During their break talk, many of us noticed that MADKID really didn’t need an interpreter, for the most part. As you can see in the video, it sounded like the interpreter sounded more nervous than the guys themselves. YOU-TA really studied hard with the English as he mentioned in his blogs months ago, and as the group’s leader, he really has to truly lead and carry the group while on stage. He and YUKI have done really well, I even had a feeling that YOU-TA was going to pick on KAZUKI again for the English 24 but luckily, he and YUKI already knew enough English to translate for him. SHIN’s killer smile was more than enough to drive everyone crazy, and LIN’s coolness gave us that “homeboy vibe” that we can just “spiritually” relate to. Overall, the boys did very well with just that one day with only two songs and a full-house venue.
The whole “SHIN is staring and smiling at me” scene sorta happened again in the video. Though he did better this time by actually looking and smiling at everyone else, a few of the comments left on my fancam did notice that SHIN looked at my direction again, this time with only a few glances. I think the reason why he decided to be more “open” to his observation to everyone else because the audience is right next to the stage, versus the panel earlier, where the audience is quite far from the edge of the stage. I watched the fancam a few times and yes, I did catch SHIN making glances at me and towards my phone camera again. Deep inside, I was in glee. Who wouldn’t when your bias member suddenly notices you just like that from out of the blue?
The show ended with “FAITH,” and we sang along and we screamed along and YOU-TA even began doing his mini-fan service to the audience while he was performing on stage by shaking hands with a number of people near the stage. I was told that in Japan, they never do that, but the U.S. is an exception. Who knows, maybe next time they arrive here (not specifically San Jose but anywhere in the U.S.), they might do that same fan service as well. As they stepped down the stage, I got lucky to shake hands with YOU-TA, YUKI, and KAZUKI. I was hoping I’d get handshakes from SHIN and LIN also, but they were already off the stage. Still, 3 out of 5 members shaking my hand is more than enough.
All five of them noticing my friends and me when we ran into them at SJSU the day before was definitely more than enough. In some ways that day, I felt a bit embarrassed. Because SHIN called out my name out loud, the entire group now knows how I look like. And who knows, I’ll probably be “under their radar” on social media and on this site too, so I need to do my best to be a good representative of the global Axcel Fam in general, not just San Jose or the entire SF Bay Area.
We left CRX and made our final photo taking outside the convention center. It was also the last day of CRX and they close early at 5:30 p.m. It was also the last day that the ladies and I would be hanging out together. The next day (Labor Day holiday), our friends would be flying back to Japan. Not just that, MADKID will also be flying back to Japan. 25
We all had so much fun, the best times ever, but at the same time, we parted our own ways and making our transition back to our real everyday lives was filled with tears. The tears that I shed wasn’t just for MADKID, but also for the lovely ladies who joined us these past four days. We dropped them off at their hotel and I brought Karu to the Union City BART station so that she can go back home to her hometown, San Francisco.
Labor Day is a national holiday in the U.S. On that day, MADKID and (some of) the Japanese Axcels would be flying back to Japan. I kept an eye out on Twitter knowing that the boys may be updating something before they take off. SHIN uploaded his usual Monday blog on LINE BLOG, not even realizing that it was already Tuesday in Japan. 26 He only realized that until they landed at Narita later that night (PDT).
KAZUKI, MADKID’s “resident YouTuber,” uploaded his newest vlog about their time exploring around Downtown San Jose. I think the video itself illustrated to us Bay Area locals that they definitely cherished their (short) time here. He took footage of some of downtown San Jose’s best spots, and the highlight of it all is the Bird scooters that they rode around the streets for 3 hrs that cost them $40 bucks. 27
SHIN and YOU-TA wrote about San Jose on their blogs twice in a row, one after they arrived back in Japan and the week right after. I don’t have the entire translation, but to give a brief summary, the only one thing that SHIN regretted was that he couldn’t speak (enough) English for him to say something during their interviews, though he did say a few words during the interviews. YOU-TA somehow hinted that he was challenging the Japanese Axcels to give the same vibe of hype as we did the next time they are in a major live event again. But at the same time, he also noted that he was convinced that there were more overseas Axcels and new fans than he thought, that he even began to ponder about upcoming future events overseas including here in the Bay Area.
LIN also came on IG Live the morning before they flew back to Japan. He noticed how much he loved the summer weather here in the Bay. Sure, it’s hot, but it’s summer, it’s supposed to be hot, but he loved how it cools down in the afternoon and even moreso at night. The weather and the people were perfect, he said. He also hinted that the night before, he and the guys were already talking about a future one-man live or a live tour outside Japan, at least, starting here in the Bay Area. It only made sense because they got more familiar with San Jose easily and felt like they were already at home at their short stay. They already proved it when they got over their jetlag really quick and even got used to the California time zone really quick.
On this same day, I also started getting tweets and IG DMs from fellow local (?) fans who attended the MADKID live events at CRX, introducing themselves and some even found AXCEL STYLE during their online research about MADKID. 28 Along with that, there were also some Japanese Axcels who have been “hiding in the Twitter shadows” for awhile now, coming out in public, some can even speak English, also started following me and even reaching out to me. This was what I wanted in the aftermath of MADKID’s debut outside Japan – unity among all fans, new Axcels, from Japan to outside. This was what I really expected.
Three weeks later, here I am, finally finishing this “fan concert report.” It took me two weeks to “get over” my post-concert withdrawal and the more I saw the boys posting about San Jose at that time, the more they made me cry. I dreaded going back to work after Labor Day and real-life was really catching up to me. Finally, I now have the time and inspiration to write this fan experience once and for all.
“Do you know the way to San Jose?”
As a local, I’ve always known the way there since childhood.
Karu, as a local from across the Bay, has also found her way.
Our newly-made Japanese Axcel friends definitely found their way to San Jose, from Alviso to Santana Row to Downtown.
Lastly, MADKID definitely found their way to San Jose. Eventually, they’ll find their ways to other places around the world, but San Jose will be an iconic place for them and for us global Axcels, being the very first spot where they made their live debut outside Japan. They have set their foot here at an “old world” technology capital city of the U.S.
Most people outside America has never really heard of San Jose except for those who have actually been here. When a non-American thinks about America, the first two places they would think about are New York City and Los Angeles. As of today, MADKID and the Japanese Axcels who flew down here will be adding San Jose in their minds.
Finally concluding this post, the only thing that we could do is wait. MADKID presumed their usual activities in Japan and I’m still keeping an eye on their Twitter accounts for any of these events. With Shield Hero season 2 and season 3 already in production, now we’re also hoping that MADKID would also be chosen to compose and perform the opening (or ending?) themes to these seasons.
Anything for MADKID to come back here and even perform at other parts of the country and around the world.
As an East Bay local stuck in the middle of East Bay 1, I do know my way to San Jose. But, that’s not the point I’m trying to make with the title of this post. I guess you can say that this would be my very first fan experience post that doesn’t really much involve our MADKID-stalking ground, Twitter and Instagram. Rather, this is my very first fan experience post that is set in a fanfic-like world.
Except, that is, it’s in real life.
Before, I had this idea of inviting fellow Axcels to write fanfics about our boys and maybe compile them in a fanfic section here on AXCEL STYLE. I’ve written one about Shin before last year, but even that fanfic was so close to real life. So in short, I’m not even going to write about this in fanfic format.
I know this is over a week old because I was mentally exhausted and have been going through a withdrawal period 2 since I first saw MADKID perform on stage on my home soil. Even as I’m writing this, I really miss MADKID with all my heart. I began praying and hoping that MADKID will come back here on home soil, and this time, I will be a lot braver than how I was last weekend.
I’m writing this entry to share my fan experience on how we (Bay Area) Axcels prepared for MADKID’s debut overseas concert. 3 This will be two-part blog entries about my very first fan experience with MADKID, how my friends and I prepared for the day, as well as giving low-key guides to MADKID about San Jose altogether, as well as CRX. We began preparing ourselves for this huge day when both MADKID Twitter and Crunchyroll Expo Twitter announced their first live event back in late June. At that time, I felt that I was the only long-time Axcel who is from the same area as the guys’ destination. Because of that, I put the pressure on myself on how I can really introduce MADKID to a city that the entire world isn’t really familiar with: San Jose. 4
Before I begin, just a little warning. There will be some fangirling throughout this entry. I don’t normally fangirl as an Axcel except for a few moments, but this is a little warning. It’s only natural.
[Before 8/29/2019] Exploring San Jose
When CRX 5 announced MADKID’s appearance, they didn’t specifically mention the date when they will have their live event. CRX was a 3-day event after all. Rather than waiting for the announcement, plus the prices of the passes were going up, we went ahead and ordered 3-day passes so that at least we’d also enjoy CRX and San Jose while we wait for MADKID to arrive.
Karu-chan also mentioned that two of her Japanese Axcel friends also planned to come and watch MADKID here in the Bay Area. At the same time, I knew that Karu herself isn’t familiar with my side of the bay, 6 so that was when I began to think about the best spots and places that I feel that they would really enjoy. 7
That was when I took it upon myself as an Axcel representative of both the East Bay and the South Bay. I was sure that there had to be more of us local Bay Area Axcels besides Karu and myself scattered around, but I felt that we’re the only ones active online, the only ones following MADKID and the members closely, only ones who actually go to the member livestreams and chat with the members. I’m not just doing this for Karu and her friends, but I also thought about MADKID as well. I started looking up San Jose’s notable spots for non-locals and even asked help from my younger brother 8 regarding these spots. Even though my sister-in-law 9 already suggested to me the best spots that she was confident that my friends and MADKID would surely enjoy, she also suggested that the best way to discover these places was to explore San Jose myself.
On our usual get-together weekend, I suggested to Karu that instead of me traveling to San Francisco, that she should travel to my side and have her get a head start on the atmosphere of San Jose. In that way, when her friends from Japan arrive, Karu would do a lot better aiding her friends through the duration of their trip because of the language barrier. Therefore, to celebrate KAZUKI’s birthday back at 7/21, we decided to check out the notable spots of San Jose from Santana Row to downtown San Jose, in which the Crunchyroll Expo venue would take place.
After hanging out somewhere outside San Francisco (but still within the Bay Area), we both felt that we were ready for CRX. Even after that, my co-workers and I also started going to SJ for lunch that’s at the outskirts of downtown and Santana Row, namely the Alviso neighborhood (featured photo of the creek above is located at Alviso). I also sampled some of the notable local food in SJ as well: La Victoria Taqueria for authentic Mexican, Pizza My Heart for pizza, 10Ike’s Love & Sandwiches for sandwiches. If you want burgers, there’s also the Californian classic burger joint, In-N-Out. Because of MADKID’s schedule during August, I only scouted the areas that are within downtown and around the outskirts of downtown.
Around early August, SHIN came online on his LINE LIVE livestream to talk to his fans, as always. When I came on, all I could comment was about San Jose and CRX, sharing him spots that I feel that he and the guys should check out during their stay. Because there were so many people tuning in his stream that he hasn’t had a chance to read some of my comments before he decided to sign off. But before he did, he asked me if I can re-send my comments to him via DM on his Instagram so he could at least have a list of the spots that he and the guys should check out once they arrive here. I went ahead and did that and sent him some photos as well.
Ever since then, I began exploring the area almost once a week with co-workers when we go to lunch from work. While I was exploring these spots, I knew that I have to pick the best spots within the city outside of CRX using what I knew about Karu’s Japanese friends and what I knew about MADKID. I felt confident that they will enjoy San Jose, at least the downtown and its outskirts area of San Jose.
On the days before 8/29, we all vowed to each other not to stalk the guys when they arrive in San Jose. Thinking that San Jose is a huge city, 11 we all thought that it’s impossible to stalk them out the streets of downtown anyway, plus they may be inside the convention center checking out the festivities within the expo.
[8/29-30/2019 – CRX Day 0-1]
I will skip the details for 8/29 and 8/30 because they were all personal days for my friends and me. We mostly toured around and shopped while we were posing around for IG-worthy shots and showing off our keychains and photo bromides of the boys and share them on SMS for everyone, including MADKID, to see.
It was already confirmed that MADKID will perform on the last day of CRX, which was in 2 days (9/1). Because of their schedule back in Japan, 12 we all anticipated they will arrive here possibly on 8/31 in the morning. Our guess was confirmed at their Anisama post-live video when YOU-TA mentioned that they will be making a stopover at Los Angeles before they reach San Jose. 13 From L.A. to S.J. by plane is about an hour or an hour and a half.
We were having dinner during their Anisama event (8/30 @ 10:00 am JST) at Pizza My Heart on 8/29 (@ 6:00 pm U.S. PDT), and while we were chatting and enjoying some delicious pizza slices. We were also keeping an eye out on Twitter for the updates regarding their event, and we were happy to see footage of their Anisama performance. I mean, it’s a MADKID performance and they’re always awesome, but what really caught our eyes from this footage was the audience:
If you take note on the video, the audience at the back were completely hyped up with their performance by singing along with the song (RISE). Sure, because this is Anisama, 14 there will be hordes of anime otaku flocking all over the area. However, those people at the back aren’t just otaku, but they’re also guys. GUYS, people!!
One of my hopes as an Axcel, since I started last year, is not just to increase the global Axcel fanbase. I also want a type of fanbase that’s also diverse and not just females. Most of MADKID’s Axcel fanbase in Japan currently are female, but that makes sense. They’ve got the talent, stage presence, and visuals altogether that many non-J-Pop fangirls often compare them to a K-Pop boy group. But anyway, just seeing GUYS getting hyped up at the back really made me happy. It also made me think of how the turnout at CRX is going to be like. Knowing that Shield Hero became popular outside Japan with the predominantly male demographics, I expected the same turnout like the one at Anisama— only more hyped, a lot crazier, and… seriously LOUD.
At the same time, I was a bit worried about the culture shock as well. I’m aware that in Japan, the audience is a bit more reserved while they perform. But here in the U.S., it’s not like that. During the best parts of the performance, the audience will get loud. Seriously LOUD. I’m pretty sure the guys were already noted by others about the culture between fans in Japan and fans here in the U.S., and how the guys will approach the American audience.
When I got home, 15 I stayed up for a bit to update everyone at the AXCEL STYLE Discord Chat about our activities. Just as I was about to head to bed, a little over past midnight, Shin gave us a quick update:
At home, here in my bedroom, I literally screamed in joy. In my mind, I kept hearing myself “MADKID is flying off from Japan! MADKID is on their way to California! MADKID will be having their live performance in my hometown! I’M GOING TO SEE MADKID BOOOIIIII~!!!” 16 I also texted the friends on LINE about SHIN’s Twitter update and all of us was still up past midnight and we all screamed and completely hyped.
Judging from the time that Shin posted the tweet, we made our prediction on the time they will land in San Jose: Early morning (10-11:00 am) or lunchtime (12:00 pm). We finally tucked ourselves in our beds and get ready for the next day.
[8/31/2019 – CRX Day 2]
Because of my short schedule for this day, 17 we decided to meet up early. I woke up at about 7 a.m. and drove off to San Jose at around 8:00 a.m. and picked up the friends from their respective hotels. At about 9:30 a.m., we decided to do some simple shopping. The day prior, we went to Santana Row and Westfield Valley Fair to do high-end shopping. 18 On this day, because of Karu needing to finish her letters for the guys, we decided to do some shopping for the necessities, like snacks, a few writing instruments, and other things. We went to three stores: Trader Joe’s (for the snacks), 19Michaels (for the writing instruments), and Target (for the stationery).
I did a little word-of-mouth about MADKID while we were at Trader Joe’s. When we got to the register, the cashier noticed my MADKID “GIANT KILLING” SLYKY button pins on my strap purse and showed how much he liked them. This gave me a chance to talk about MADKID for a bit and how they will be performing at CRX the next day. He mentioned that he was an anime fan and hopefully he would try to make it to CRX that day to see the guys. Even if he wasn’t able to go the next day, at least now he has heard of them.
By the time we were finished with shopping at Target, we all got a notification that YUKI uploaded a short clip on his IG Story. It was a clip of the hotel suite he was staying, but it wasn’t the hotel that got us alert. It was the view from his suite window that got us hyped.
Our visiting Japanese Axcels shrieked at the view and then began asking us about the view. I knew then that our “no stalking the boys” vow from a few days ago is already broken. I did recognize the dome-shaped building at the left immediately 20 and then we decided to end our little shopping and make our way to downtown and eventually inside CRX.
When we reached the heart of downtown, SHIN also updated his IG Story.
When my brother began helping me out with researching downtown San Jose weeks prior, the first thing he informed me about the area was that San Jose is the third biggest city in California and that the majority of downtown San Jose consisted of his old collegiate alma mater, San Jose State University. 21 In short, downtown San Jose isn’t as big as downtown San Francisco or downtown Oakland. In fact, he mentioned that it’s quite easy to run into people you don’t expect to see at the outskirts area of SJSU and outside the convention center.
When we saw SHIN posting his IG Story of him posing in front of the SJ Museum of Art, we were already just a few blocks near that spot. There were huge traffic and road blockage on certain streets and we really couldn’t get near the museum of art, so we had to look for another parking lot nearby. We weren’t aware with what was going on until later in the day when a few of the global Axcels sent me DMs asking me about a suicide incident that happened at the Fairmont Hotel nearby the CRX venue, showing their concerns about us and MADKID, our locations during that time, etc. I was relieved to report to them that the suicide incident happened early in the morning and that MADKID hasn’t landed in SJ yet and we haven’t arrived downtown when that happened. Very few people mentioned about this scary incident, but for the most part, no one reported it in public within the CRX attendees and participants. 22
We finally found an open parking lot that is a block away from the convention center. When we got out, Shin updated his IG Story again:
He found the exact same Gong Cha branch that Karu and I posed from our San Jose get-together last July to celebrate Kazuki’s birthday (7/21):
Where we’re standing around this time, we knew we were nearby that square area. Karu and I remembered that we’re close to SJSU, and because of this, even our Japanese Axcel friends were already having thoughts about actually seeing MADKID in town, somewhere around the streets of downtown. Even Karu was already having gut feelings that in a matter of some minutes, we will be running into MADKID. We decided to stop by Gong Cha to have an early refreshment before lunch, so we made our way over there.
So, did we actually see MADKID out here in the downtown streets?
We had no expectations about running into them at all, but we all were having “what if” thoughts about seeing them hanging around the streets of downtown. We were just a few meters away from Gong Cha, and as we turned the corner to one of the open squares near one of the entrances of SJSU, Karu spotted different colors of hair from the distance: red hair, grayish hair, blonde hair under a cap…
Our Japanese friends gasped and freaked. I even muttered to myself: “What the eff, no way! Of all places and of all the times?!”
Holy eff, it’s MADKID! MADKID is walking towards our direction at this very spot! What the heck?!
I wanted to scream so loud but held myself so I don’t disturb anyone on the scene. I was seriously unprepared for this, didn’t even know how to act in front of them, but the rest were already exchanging their greetings. I said hi also at random and didn’t take the time to look at everyone in the eye because of my shyness.
Just as we were passing by them, SHIN, the last person behind the group, gazed right at us with his usual bright and cheerful smile. Once I was about to make eye contact with him, he suddenly called out my name in a loud voice. His voice was so loud that it made random people present turn around and gaze right at us. I blushed a little hearing my name from his voice, even pointed his finger at me. It made me so happy and in a trance that my MADKID bias and I have had a friendship through livestreams for over a year immediately recognized my face and voice and matching it with my name.
After we passed by one another, we had one last look at the open square area. I waited until the guys disappeared from our sight. Once they did, I took a quick snapshot of the place we ran into each other and make it as a keepsake of this one small but special moment together.
After this meeting, we made our way to our intended destination, only to notice that it was already past lunchtime. We decided to go to our favorite spot for the second time: Pizza My Heart.
I would go more into much detail regarding this day, but I would be just making this post too long. So instead, I’ll just share you my highlighted IG story with the updates from MADKID of the spots they’ve been and the time where we were while they were there.
This concludes Part 1 of this entry. I got the post title of Do you know the way to San Jose? from an old but classic ’60s hit by legendary singer Dionne Warwick. I thought the lyrics of the song matched our experiences with MADKID outside Japan. The saying would be something like:
Do you know the way to San Jose? I will be meeting MADKID for the first time ever, and San Jose is the meeting place. I have lived in the same region of the San Francisco Bay Area known simply as the East Bay, stretching from Richmond to San Jose, with San Jose just some twenty miles away from my actual hometown.
Because I found my way to San Jose, I found MADKID.
Till next time again with Part 2 – the day of MADKID’s debut live overseas!
Yesterday (8/15/19 U.S. PDT), I posted my second attempt at an Instagram Story Q&A box on the AXCEL STYLE Instagram account. I’ve done this before earlier this year or sometime late of last year, but unfortunately, no one really dropped a question that I can answer and post it on the IG story. Just out of the blue, because of a recent increase in global Axcels, I decided to try it again. This time, I’ve succeeded and got a few questions from fellow global Axcels who have been following the IG account.
To everyone who sent in questions, I thank you. I’ll post up another one soon when I can.
Even though some of the questions were similar to the others before them, I still answered them without being repetitive (as in the same answers). The last question actually intrigued me and it also gave me an idea on what to write about in this latest The AXCEL Side post, so I decided to write about this question instead. The said question is here below:
Dedicated Axcel that I am, I may have easily answered the question with a no, but that would just be me denying myself as a web developer and maintainer of a fully-blown expanded fansite and blog such as this. As a web dev for a living, I’ve always had doubts about everything that I do as I start typing on my text editor whatever code that I needed to write about. There are several questions that I would ask and write them down on my notebook as a side reminder of what may come as I write down every single line of code needed as a way for me to not think of these doubts up until I’ve completed the project.
So, the answer to that question above is yes, I do have doubts. I still have doubts today, even though the site is pretty much completed. It’s not because of how this was made, but it’s more because of how the content and everything I displayed in public here may impact the Axcel Fam community and even gain potential new fans. In addition to that, I also question how this English language fansite may even affect MADKID themselves as a budding dance and vocal group slowly gaining popularity among global fans.
Therefore, this entry is all about these doubts, and I’ll write every single one of them.
#1 – Is it okay to put details about the group and its members when it’s not really mentioned on their official site profiles or even on their social media?
Plenty of the personal details mentioned in the SLYKY section of the site are all stemmed from the livestreams of each member. 1 As a curious fan, I have the tendency to keep an eye out their mannerisms, the way they situate themselves in front of their smartphones/tablets doing their livestreams while talking to fans leaving comments. Of course, I also had a realization that they’re baring out all their personal quirks and mannerisms you don’t normally see during live events and on stage right at your screen, which means they’re not hiding them, nor they’d feel embarrassed when someone informs other fans of this.
With the latter in mind, I felt confident. Plus, some long-time Axcels think it would also bring in more new Axcels because they will become a lot curious as to why they do these little things the way they do them. This also gave me a realization that the members love attention from the masses as well, so I broke this doubt and went for this idea.
#2 – This is an English language fansite with very little or no Japanese text and it’s aiming for global (non-Japan) fans. That’s it… right?
Originally, this was my initial thought before drafting the UI 2 of the site. Because MADKID’s global fanbase is very small compared to many of other notable J-Pop male dance and vocal groups, this was my true aim for this site. This would mean that I won’t have to bother the Japanese Axcels to promote this site to them. This also meant that I won’t have to let the members know that this English fansite about them now exist because I don’t think anyone of them would even stop by to look at it anyway.
Then one day, about a week after the first edition of AXCEL STYLE was completed, a Japanese Shin-biased fan informed SHIN on one of his livestreams that I just put up a MADKID fansite in English. I was surprised at first because I really didn’t intend to let the members and the Japanese fans know about the site because most of them would not understand English at all. Then I just remembered that a few of the Shin-biased Axcels started following me (my personal account) on Twitter when I started joining in Shin’s livestreams when he was still using the Pococha livestream app.
With that comment in his livestream, not only Shin knew about the site, but also every single Shin-biased fans present knows about it too. At that time, I didn’t know Shin that well yet and thought that he’d just thank me for starting one and move on to the next comment. When he read that person’s comment about my site, not only that he thanked me, but he also prodded me a little bit regarding the site by giving him the URL to the site, what the contents of the site was, my intent, etc. On the next livestream session, Shin didn’t forget about AXCEL STYLE and informed me that he did check out the site and how happy and excited he was for the site and he also imagined how much I’ve worked hard on it and the struggles I’ve gone through while I was constructing the site. I even recalled how he said that both of us should continue working hard for our goals: him and his performances and me with both my job as a web dev and on the side, seeing AXCEL STYLE grow.
On those days, Shin gave me the motivation and drive to build the site up, even when there were very little to no visitors who would take the time to stop by and check out what content I have at that time. I know this because there are site stats that read the number of visitors coming and going here. I thanked Shin for this encouragement and I breathed a sigh of relief.
#3 – One of the five members now know about AXCEL STYLE. What happens when the rest of the members start to know about its existence too?
It didn’t take long for the word about AXCEL STYLE to spread through the rest of the Axcel Fam including the rest of the members. I even thought how often the members would talk about certain fans they’ve met during handshake events or even through their personal livestreams. Then I learned from Karu-chan and a few that these guys love gossiping about certain fans to each other. It didn’t take long to even notice or even learn that I happen to be one of those “certain fans” they’d talk about to each other.
After Shin knowing about the site, YUKI was the second person to learn about it. When he came on 17 at that time, I stopped by to say hi. The first thing he said to me was thank you and congrats on AXCEL STYLE. I commented that he must have seen one of my tweets promoting it during its first launch. Then he said, “Oh no, Shin-chan told me about it. Really great job!”
I felt a bit nervous hearing about this from him. Like what on earth just happened, I thought. With two members knowing about this site, all the more that I started to put up some boundaries on what I should not do with this site for the sake of the group and its dedicated fans. I have to be careful with what I put on this site that may end up affecting the members or even the fans altogether.
Besides MADKID, LIN does his side-project with his friend and fellow trackmaster Hylen, and released three original singles at that time: Incurability, I Need You, and Struggle. 3 Because I’m essentially an R&B/Hip-hop fan, I decided to check out his new project and dug all of his tracks. Since I needed some fresh content on the blog part of the site, I decided to write a somewhat thorough review of all three of his songs with Hylen.
About a few days later after the new post was tweeted out to the public, LIN also tweeted about my blog review of his and Hylen’s singles. It wasn’t even an RT from my original tweet. It was a fresh tweet coming from his account. Hylen did the same thing, also a fresh tweet, but also credited me (using my personal Twitter) as the writer/reviewer of the songs. I was shocked because we’re talking about LIN here, being the “behind-the-scenes lurking in the shadows” mastermind of MADKID. As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words, and what he did for my review wasn’t so he can show off to everyone that someone who isn’t Japanese wrote something about his work. I also like to think that he too low-key gave me his support for my work with AXCEL STYLE. From that day on, I decided to write more reviews about their individual projects and not just MADKID-related.
At that time, I assumed that KAZUKI also knew about the site so I decided not to bother him with it. Of course, I now want all the members to know about AXCEL STYLE, just to show them how much I love, appreciate, and support them with who they are and everything that they do, but I’m not an aggressive promoter, so to speak. It’s not really in my character to do aggressive promotions at all.
I don’t remember how I decided to ask him about AXCEL STYLE sometime late of last year, but whatever the reason was, I just simply asked him about it. It was another shocking moment when I learned that he actually didn’t know about AXCEL STYLE. I started to think of the other members didn’t mention to him about it or if he may have forgotten about it, but either way, he was finally aware of its existence. He did ask me for the URL also, and even though I warned him that it’s in English, it didn’t matter to him. He wanted to see that it actually existed and that there’s plenty of content enough to satisfy the curious fan. He also thanked me and also gave me a huge thumbs up and a ganbatte ne to me and to AXCEL STYLE.
I can’t say that he knows about AXCEL STYLE’s existence. To be honest, among the five members, the president is the one whom I seem to have trouble communicating, even when he goes to his occasional livestreams or game on his PS4 live on his Twitch channel. 4 When he does go to livestreams, it’s very rare that he reads comments. He isn’t like Shin who takes the time to read everyone’s comments or Kazuki who would read comments directed at him, even if they were in English or Yuki would read as many comments as he can off the bat.
But, four out of five members knowing about AXCEL STYLE. I think that’s more than enough.
#4 – Even though MADKID and the Japanese Axcels know its existence, the site’s intent isn’t towards them, but towards international fans and would-be fans…
We now live in the era of social media, but back in the last decade, fansites dedicated to their favorite subjects of any kind were a huge thing. AXCEL STYLE wasn’t the first fansite that I built. Last decade, I had RISING STORM, a comprehensive ARASHI fansite under the domain name amnos.net. I remembered how obsessed I was with Arashi and changed the layouts once a month. The site ran from 2003 until 2007 when I started to fade away from the fandom and fell at another interest that had nothing to do with J-Pop at all.
AXCEL STYLE is my second J-Pop-related project dedicated to yet another male dance and vocal group. The only difference between this site and RISING STORM was that I no longer have to rely on other fans or even make friends with fellow Japanese fans to provide me translations or even news links to anything about Arashi. With MADKID, they’re pretty much “in my face” and they’re easily accessible on social media, their official website, and eventually, the MADKID FC site.
It’s really wonderful to be acknowledged by the guys and the Japanese Axcels just for putting up this site alone. However, my intended target audience isn’t them, but the global fans. This would be the most difficult challenge that I have and still is today. Sometimes I get obsessive with checking out the site stats almost every single day then, wondering if I got any unique visitors visiting that isn’t coming from Japan or how many hits I get from being searched through Google or other search engines. That was during the early months. Today, I just didn’t have time to do that but from time to time, I do check the stats.
Mainly, it’s the stats that also cause me to have more doubts about AXCEL STYLE. The highest number of unique visitors that I had was sometime in late June or early July, with only 400. In some ways, it’s also a good thing, as I don’t have to deal with the high traffic and the slowdown of the entire site loading. Still, those are only numbers.
The quality of the content that I post here can also give me doubts. I made sure I double-check all of my sources and the statements that I put in every blog post and even every section of the site before I have them published. A misinformed or a passage with incorrect information does not suit me, not just as a web dev, but as a blogger too. I also made sure that I give credit to the proper parties if they were not commonly seen by the public. 5
But the question is, will global Axcels and curious global fans would come and take the time to visit the site? Will my content even convince them how much MADKID is such an awesome group who deserve all the love and attention as much as any other dance and vocal group around? I felt that I’ve written (almost) everything that is more than enough to get to know MADKID which also includes how to interact with them online if they can’t see them in real life.
I made this site so that I don’t have to “spoon-feed” any curious people who want to get to know more about MADKID. I simply just give them the URL and they can take all the time they need to know more about MADKID. I thought it would be as simple as that. Turns out that it isn’t. I made the UI design as easy and as user-friendly as possible, even there is a small search icon where users can just search throughout the site any info about MADKID or any of its members. However, because of the numbers and even with interactions with some new people I’ve met throughout, I even concluded that I’ve simply wasted my time.
The times that I wanted to quit AXCEL STYLE
There were plenty of times that I was almost close to giving up on AXCEL STYLE and just be a casual Axcel, just hanging out on social media and livestreams, say hello, etc.
When I tried to engage global fans to contribute something to AXCEL STYLE (because I can’t always be blogging all the time) about any subject about MADKID late Dec 2018 – Jan 2019. No one replied, no one even said anything, no one at all.
When there wasn’t anything to write about to the point that I was tempted to write fanfics about MADKID. 6
When technical problems arise and I couldn’t figure out how to fix it and my server tech support has been taking too long to look into the problem.
When I made the side project GASP Projects Newsletter and no one’s really pitching in ideas through the mailing list. It’s still inactive till today.
Personal offline issues that I had to go through 7 and I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone or even have anything to do with MADKID. Part of me somehow felt ashamed that I felt like I had no right to bother the members (especially Shin) on Twitter or IG, just to say hi.
When my site stats had absolutely no numbers, all flat-lined to zero, for the past two weeks.
Some other rising doubts that hasn’t happened yet, but it might happen in the future. 8
When I felt like I had no friends, simply because some are busy or some started getting into other fandoms that I felt they’ve abandoned MADKID and the Axcel Fam too and felt impossible to make new Axcel friends, then I’d end up like an attention-seeking whore.
When I blank out when it comes to the Japanese language. I’m not fluent, but even with the most basic ones that I blank out, I would feel like a complete fraud.
When things were just becoming too difficult for me to handle. Juggling work, code studies, family, and my personal goals are taking me away from the things I love now: this site, the Axcel Fam, and MADKID. I don’t know anyone else within the global Axcel Fam 9 who would be dedicated enough to help me maintain AXCEL STYLE when I’m on and off hiatus.
The anime Rising of the Shield Hero really helped MADKID boost their recognition among fans outside Japan… but will these same global fans remain Axcels when MADKID releases new material that has nothing to do with Shield Hero or anime in general? 11 or anything similar. I’m sure they don’t want to be stuck just making anisongs just to make a name for themselves.[/note]
But I do know that I can’t just give up like that…
MADKID (especially SHIN), who would often remind to all Axcels how much they think of them, even if they’re away, not doing any live events or even active on social media and livestreams.
The Rising of the Shield Hero anime series also prevented me not to give up on AXCEL STYLE. If the anime is a hit, and it was a hit, that meant more new potential Axcels. This meant that they need to find more information about MADKID. That meant AXCEL STYLE becomes a major player in the game.
MADKID is coming to San Jose (California) very soon, two weeks as of this writing. This can possibly mean more new fans from the local area. This can also be the opportunity that a lone MADKID fansite and blog has been built and maintained by a local and is still ongoing.
The members (mainly SHIN, KAZUKI, and YUKI… probably LIN too…) know who I am, first-name basis and everything. I don’t want to disappoint them at all.
Maybe back in the days with my Arashi RISING STORM site, it was easy to quit because I didn’t have that much encouragement to continue from the Arashi fan community, plus a lot of these fans, even newer fans, are doing their own web projects (translations blog, etc.) that can definitely outshine mine. Plus, I wasn’t interested anymore, so I quit.
But in the case of MADKID, I’m stuck in the Axcel Universe. Next thing you know, the MADKID staff may find out about me and this site too…
Let’s just say that I sort of have the same mindset as LIN when it comes to our hard work and the projects we’ve created. I didn’t build this site or write this blog entry just so I can gain attention or fame personally. The only thing I care about is MADKID gaining their well-deserved recognition and this site that I made that would hopefully bring the curious potential fan closer to MADKID. If I’m able to accomplish that and that MADKID gains a lot more global Axcels, then my purpose for this site and even as an ongoing Axcel will be fulfilled.
Eventually, some of these doubts will go away. But sometimes, when one goes away, another one pops out. Just reading throughout what I’ve written so far, I started to wonder if I’ve invested way too much into this. On the other hand, this isn’t just a hobby side project. It’s also good practice as a web dev. Sure, it may not be completely work-related, but it is both educational and sometimes therapeutic because side projects such as this shouldn’t even have a deadline date.
As I build AXCEL STYLE little by little, I feel like I’m improving as a web dev:
Learning proper UI/UX techniques, even if I’m not a UI/UX designer.
Language writing skills. Maybe I’ll work in Japanese next time.
Learning how to appreciate WordPress’s core templating system, but I’m still far off from actually building a completely clean, streamlined theme.
Learning how to use plugins wisely – this is very important!
How caching in WordPress sites work and how to deal with them – it still is an issue from my end as a dev
Fellow web devs from the industry love following side projects, even if they’re not fans of that particular subject. It simply shows that we can be whoever we want to be outside work but we’re still devs. I know some devs are into gaming, some devs are total otaku/weebs, some devs are into fashion and beauty, etc. etc. We’re all human.
Now, I wonder if the devs of the MADKID FC site would even give attention to their own Axcels who also happens to be devs just like them….? 🧐