Happy July, Axcels! Since tomorrow is this country’s Independence Day1, I would like to extend my greetings to Happy Independence Day, America! or just simply Happy Fourth of July! Here’s me again with another blog post on The AXCEL Side.
I actually had a long list of topics to write about for the newly-launched The AXCEL Side segment of AXCEL STYLE, but because of this super huge 2 development that was announced a few days ago as of this writing, I decided to prioritize this and share my thoughts. If you stumbled on this post for the first time and haven’t read the latest What’s Happening? post I published last night, I suggest you read that post first.
To begin, 2 days after Crunchyroll Expo Twitter 3 announced this surreal news, I’m still stoked. I have a personal habit of thinking ahead and act upon it sometimes, even if the actual event won’t take place until months. 4 I was stoked writing about yesterday’s post and I’m still stoked as I write this particular post, so why not write about it again except this would be more on a personal level?
I know this is just a fandom thing to many people, but this moment is very important to me. To be honest, I don’t normally indulge in fandom stuff aside from purchasing their CDs and other memorabilia, but MADKID is a whole lot different from all the (J-Pop) artists/groups that I became huge fans of. This is the first time in almost 20 years that I became a fan of a group whom I didn’t just fell in love with (songs, dances, personalities, etc.), but also was able to meet online personally through livestreams. And very soon, I’ll be able to not just watch them perform live, but will also be meeting them in the flesh.
Hawaii was the major destination for J-Pop artists to expand
Back in the days when I first started getting into J-Pop, the internet was still early, and there weren’t any livestreaming back then. For the record, the first J-Pop group that I became devoted for years was ARASHI during their early debut days. 5 I did attend their first overseas event in Hawaii 6 and had a chance to meet the members briefly.
ARASHI wasn’t the only J-Pop group who had public events in Hawaii. Sure, it’s still part of the U.S., but why Hawaii specifically? The answer is simple: one of the largest minority groups living in Hawaii are the Japanese, both American-born and immigrants from Japan. When you do visit Hawaii, especially in their state capital city of Honolulu, you’ll feel like you’re in Okinawa, where there are a lot of Japanese people with traces of non-Japanese here and there… except you’re in American soil and most of the people there are speaking in English. I have relatives and family friends in Hawaii, and we used to visit there often for vacation getaways, so I’m quite familiar with the tropical island culture over there and the people who live there. 7 Hawaii is so diverse that a lot of the locals there mistook me and my family as locals too. 8
Fast forward years later and mainland U.S. is now open to J-Pop artists and groups, thanks to the immense popularity of the anime/manga/video games otaku scene outside Japan. J-Pop artists and groups can make their overseas debut anywhere in the U.S. when they’re invited. New York, L.A., San Diego, Boston, Houston, and the SF Bay 9 Area are now added to the list of American hot spots for J-Pop artists/groups to make their debut, even if it was in a major anime convention or even a huge event celebrating general Japanese (pop) culture.
Today, J-Pop artists no longer cater to the Japanese public in the U.S. They now cater to everyone living in the U.S.
About MADKID’s Destination Outside Japan
For those who don’t live in the U.S. or have never been to the U.S. before, here’s a little breakdown regarding U.S. geography. I’ll even use the geography of Japan as a comparison.
As an example, I’m going to break down the similarities/equivalents between San Jose (where Crunchyroll Expo 2019 is located) and Miyazaki City (SHIN’s hometown).10
- U.S.A (United States of America) → Japan
- California (state) → Miyazaki (prefecture)
- San Jose (city) → Miyazaki City (city)11
- California (state) → Miyazaki (prefecture)
California is one of the largest states in the U.S. It covers half of the West Coast of the mainland. Not only that it’s large by area, but it also holds the record of being the most populous state in the entire country. Huge populations can also mean dense diversity among different peoples.
California is divided into several regions and counties. For the San Jose comparison to Miyazaki City I mentioned at the above example, I didn’t include San Francisco Bay Area as the region and Santa Clara County in the example, because that’s where the comparisons end between U.S. geography and Japan geography. 12
Because California is so huge, it has plenty of major urbanized cities. But, in order of population, here are California’s Top 10 cities: 13
- Los Angeles 14
- San Diego
- San Jose 15
- San Francisco 16
- Long Beach
- Oakland 17
About San Jose
By general knowledge, not very many people around the world know about San Jose unless if you’re a techie, an aspiring techie, or just a straight-up technology nerd. 18 As an SF Bay Area local, this city and Oakland are my usual go-to big cities if I feel like hanging out in a larger, more bustling scene. However, San Francisco (a city across the bay from where I live) is the most famous city among the major cities here in my area.
But don’t let the “techie” part of San Jose turn you off. The city has a lot of rich culture and history before the locals started building up tech companies that are now became household names to many around the world. 19
For example, the featured image I’m using on this post is one of San Jose’s major tourist spots, the Winchester Mystery House. It’s a historical mansion owned by a widow of a gun producing entrepreneur, Sarah Winchester. This mansion is not an ordinary mansion. It has a story behind this mansion (mainly how it was built and its small features of the house that’d make you think “WTF…?”) and why the house became fascinating for many curious minds. I recommend this spot for the guys to check out, especially with YOU-TA, KAZUKI, and YUKI, who are probably two of the most random people you’ll ever meet. The keyword here is random.
I’m not going to delve further about the city itself here, as this post is getting too long. Moving forward now.
Hints and Clues of MADKID’s Global Expansion
I’m pretty sure not every single Axcel is like this, but I’m probably one of the most analytical, perceptive people within the fandom when it comes to MADKID and its members. It’s really difficult to ignore them, especially if you had a chance to go to their livestreams, comment, and end up in brief conversations about anything.
So, in this section, I caught on a lot of hints and clues that would eventually lead to MADKID’s continuing journey outside Japan. Going overseas is one of the group’s major goals since their formation back in 2014, and even if they went through a lot of hard times to finalize and stabilize their group before their major debut as mainstream J-Pop artists, this year, their dreams have finally come to reality.
It’s not just about MADKID that my gut feelings trigger about what’s to come. There were a lot of major events in my life that were gut feeling triggers too. I’m not going to write about the latter here.
So, when did I start catching on hints and clues that would have them lead to this day? I started getting the hints and clues during my first few months as an Axcel. I don’t list all of them chronologically on a piece of paper or anything, but I did catch them all in my head.
Here are some of the hints and clues I caught on, not in particular order:
- Doesn’t really mingle with fans online except when he comes on IG Live doing livestreams, but on Twitter, during my early days as an Axcel, he tweeted in English a lot. He would also sometimes reply on some fans who replied to his tweets regarding the tweets themselves, not about him, in English. He also announces all the MADKID and his side projects (LIN & HYLEN) on Twitter in English as well. This means that not only he is promoting to the Japanese listeners, but to global listeners as well. This also means that he wants to aim for the world as well.
- The fact that he and YUKI, the songwriters of MADKID, incorporate a lot of English in all of their songs balanced with the Japanese lyrics. One of their couplings/B-sides to their last single as an indies unit 20 was TOKYO, a fast-paced dance single with the song almost entirely in English. 21
- When he puts up a question box on his IG Stories, he also uses a randomizer app to grab the questions at random from fans/users who do send questions, and he answers these particular reasons. When some of these random questions happen to be in English, he’ll respond to them in English.
- Aside from getting used to singing in English, 22 he had been posting a few photos on his IG (and IG Stories) of (advanced) English conversation textbooks from time to time.
- He also blogged sometime in April (or March?) regarding the English textbooks that he had been posting. He mentioned that he had been studying English a lot harder and have been practicing it by conversing with his non-Japanese friends on his LINE messenger account. 23
- Even before that, on his blog entries, he mentioned several times that their goal as a group is to go worldwide. I’ve only been an Axcel for over a year, but even then, I was already getting inner gut feelings that they’ll be able to make this goal into reality soon.
- I think among all the members, KAZUKI is the one who worries me the most when it comes to English. He only knew the very basics 24 and the famous quote from the 2018 American sci-fi movie Ready Player One: “First to the egg!” 25 Even KAZUKI-biased Axcels are worried about him.
- In one of his 17 LiveAF livestreams, he mentioned to Karu-chan that “hopefully, we’ll be coming to America before your birthday.” How many people who joined in his livestreams pay attention to all the replies he’s made to some of the comments there? And what did he mean by this when he said that?
- Used to go on livestreams often from 17 LiveAF to even IG Live last year. Because they had a lot of activity going on these first five months of 2019, he would go on whenever he has the tiem to go on. He was very punctual in responding to non-Japanese comments by replying in English.
- If a non-Japanese Axcel would comment in Japanese (no matter how fluent or broken may be), he will still respond in English. It’s mainly because he is trying to assimilate himself and get used to conversing with non-Japanese using English. In short, he is preparing himself, right?
- He also showed some of his English textbooks on his past IG Live sessions, which makes it a lot obvious on what he was preparing for.
- “Good morning, y’all!”
I’ll just post this video here and y’all be the judge.
I only mentioned on my comment to him that I missed him because he hasn’t been doing livestreams for months and I kept missing him because of the hours. All I said was that I missed him, but why would he mention (though not in perfect English) about meeting each other (in real life)? That’s a huge clue right there for me.
There were other clues and hints he (non-intentionally?) gave out on his livestreams, but this particular short recording of his livestream pretty much says it all to me.
Preparing for Crunchyroll Expo 2019
To be honest, even though it’s been over a week since the official announcement of MADKID’s guesting at the Crunchyroll Expo coming in two months, there isn’t any planned ideas just yet to prepare. We still have to find out the complete schedule of the Expo to check which day(s) MADKID will appear. I’m really hoping it’s all three days, though for sure they will be having their live on one day. Still, I’m hoping they’ll be there at the expo for all three days.
During our stoked period for us Bay Area local Axcels, we let our imagination run wild. In fact, last year, I had the most random dream about MADKID when they came here for a visit. I’ll write about this at another entry, but I do plan on talking about this to the guys in person if I’m able to. I’ll give you a few words regarding my random dream: “Never chase squirrels. Ever.”
I’ll write again regarding our progress leading to the Crunchyroll Expo. It’s still early July and CRX isn’t until the end of August and early September (Labor Day weekend). Still got plenty of time to brainstorm and prepare.
That’s it for now, Axcels. Till next time!
- informally known to most people as The Fourth of July…
- for the global Axcel Fam that is…
- and eventually MADKID Twitter announced it, as well as the members tweeting about it…
- 2 months
- I became a fan at around 2000-2001, ended my fandom in 2007.
- It’s only a 2-hr plane flight from the SF Bay Area, where I currently live.
- Well, I was born and lived my first 10 years in the Philippines, so I pretty much know tropical island culture in general.
- Filipinos are another huge minority group in Hawaii alongside the Japanese.
- San Francisco Bay
- I’m not using SHIN’s hometown as an example just because he’s my bias, but it’s a lot clearer/much easier to understand…
- also the prefecture capital
- Each prefecture in Japan has their own divisions also.
- Source: California Demographics
- One of the U.S.’s most popular cities and it rivals New York City. It’s pretty much the “West Coast” version of New York City.
- This city isn’t too globally known in comparison to New York City and Los Angeles, unless if you work or are familiar with the U.S.’s most famous tech sector, Silicon Valley. San Jose is pretty much the capital city of Silicon Valley. Yours truly lives in a small suburban town about 25 miles north of San Jose, so in short, I’m a close local.
- The famous Golden Gate Bridge is located here. Also, Karu-chan of Letters @ AXCEL STYLE lives here.
- I live about 20 miles south of Oakland, known as the former home base of one of the NBA’s top teams, the Golden State Warriors.
- Not exactly on the same level as Akihabara-level nerd, but close…
- Apple being one of them, though its real home base is in Cupertino, a suburban small city near San Jose.
- PARTY UP/Faded Away
- The rap portions are the only ones that had Japanese lyrics in them.
- since pretty much all of their songs have a heavy amount of English in their lyrics…
- Don’t ask me about their LINE account usernames. No Axcel knows them.
- Hi, hello, good morning/afternoon/evening, how are you, have a good day, etc…
- If you’ve seen the movie Ready Player One, one of the actors is Win Morisaki, main vocal of the J-Pop boy group PrizmaX. He played the role of Daito in the movie.