Monday, May 31, 2010

Idol Flashback: Tokyo Performance Doll

After Onyanko Club and before Morning Musume, the next major idol group was Tokyo Performance Doll. It is a belief that TPD was the true inspiration for Hello!Project recording artist Morning Musume and not Onyanko Club ,while Morning Musume does have some Onyanko influences ,they are nothing like the comparisons with TPD.

Why do I say that? Well TPD`s trademarks was the following.

Multi-membership. Graduations. Sub-units. Happy-poppy songs. Outrageous costume ideas. Smiling face dances, Energetic performances and sister units.

Did I mention that one of those sister units was from China? In addition, another was based in Osaka which Inaba Atsuko was  a member of , why is Osaka important? Well H!P Kansai is based in Osaka , does this sound familiar ? It should ,you have watched the same thing in Hello!Project.

These are also all the things that have been trademarks of Morning Musume. Some Western fans may believe that Morning Musume started it all and that AKB48 is just riding the coattails of Morning Musume`s fame. In actuality, Morning Musume and AKB48 are not the original multi-member idol girl-groups , and certainly, the things that they do are not new either.

Epic-Sony Records formed Tokyo Performance Doll or TPD for short in April of 1990. TPD started out as a 3 member unit called “Golbies” they made up TPD`s core members, and future generations of TPD members were added in support [Sound Familiar?].

The goal of TPD was to bring about a "music revolution" within the entertainment industry.

[A music Revolution? Morning Musume, also had the same goal]

The initial concept of TPD was "the girls-next-door idols", but the concept was switched to "pro dancers" giving them a neo-Takarazuka look, causing TPD's popularity to soar to greater heights and attracting many more fans.

[Girls Next-Door Idols? Sound Familiar? ]

TPD's method of choosing a few core members, then building the group around them by recruiting more members was a new technique at the time and was later copied by other producers. Among them was Okinawa Actor's School from which many popular acts have come from, such as Super Monkeys (Amuro Namie and MAX), SPEED, D&D, Folder5, Y'z Factory etc. Hello! Project's Morning Musume also adopted this formula.

Morning Musume started of with five members, but the leads were mostly given to Fukuda Asuka and Abe Natsumi, while the others (Nakazawa Yuuko, Ishiguro Aya and Iida Kaori) provided the harmonies. With Fukuda's graduation, the main vocal was given to Abe Natsumi even though the 2nd generation members were recruited, the spark soon ran out, and a another ace was required, enter Goto Maki. The entire Morning Musume concept was built around the "aces" and "leads" as core members. Something that TPD had done yrs before the creation of Hello!Project .

TPD also had eight sub-units in the time that they were active ,Just like H!P would do many years later the core members and the "backing members" were shuffled together to form these units. One of those sub units was called TWO TOPS". Sound familiar? ,it should ,that's the nickname that Okamura Takashi of the comedy duo Ninety-Nine, gave to the "unofficial idol group" of the Mechaike Okajo Girls School series -> Tsuji Nozomi and Kago Ai.

As TPD developed ,they would set themselves apart from other idol units of their time with the use of “trainees” .These young hopefuls started out as backup dancers for selected TPD Lives and 1-2 times a year these “trainees” would have their own lives ,the set list by the way was TPD group & sub unit songs .

Again, sound familiar? It should, Hello! Project Eggs follows the same formula. These young talents in the Hello! Project “training” class are also used as back-dancers for Hello! Project concerts and they are given their own concerts.

This training class also brought Morning Musume two Chinese exchange students ,TPD had four Chinese members in a sister unit .

While AKB48 is all but a modern day Onyanko Club ,TPD certainly had an inspiration on Hello!Project and this is not a bad thing as the next generation of idols will be inspired by Morning Musume and the idols of today as the circle of idol life will continue.



  1. Yanki*Mina
    Sorry that I missed your comment, Yeah of all the past Idol groups, it seems that TPD has had the greatest influence on the system used by Hello!Project. For the most part all of today’s groups are a copy of past groups .It`s how the genre works. It`s easier to think safe and repeat the past success, then to think outside of the box for most agencies.

  2. I always thought of TPD as more similar to AKB48. AKB48 and SKE48 remind me respectively of Tokyo Performance Doll and Osaka Performance Doll because of their primary focus on theater performances and their geographic concentrations (SKE48 is in Kansai, too). The division of roles in TPD also seems to have been more strict in a manner similar to designating senbatsu/under girl, as there were primary and secondary members.

    The thing I found most striking about the TPD performance I watched (I've seen most of one live) was that it seemed like they tried very hard to make the girls look identical. Seems to be kind of the antithesis of most idol groups today.

    Onyanko had a few subgroups as well. :)

  3. Sempai, you can find both groups influence in all idol groups today and you can find today’s idols influencing new groups coming out. It`s like one giant web that connects everyone .Like you said, you noticed TPD influences in AKB,everybody is related to each other.

    Onyanko Club is on the list to talk about . I have over 30 artists selected .


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