Monday, September 6, 2010

Idol Flashback: Onyanko Club, The biggest and the BEST!



Of the idols of the 80`s that shaped Japanese Idol music, the biggest and the BEST was Onyanko Club.

Onyanko Club, which means “Kitten Club” was created by AKB48 founder Akimoto Yasushi in 1985 and was not only the biggest in terms of members at 52, but the best of all idol groups of that time. Onyanko Club are the birth mothers so to speak of the modern idol era. Everything that you watch on television or on video each week from Idol variety shows, Onyanko Club for the most part originally done .

Many fans and even agency owners today like to call our idols under employment or that you may support as super idol groups .After all no matter how big or small the group is or what your personal investment in their success is, you feel that they are the best, because of the personal attachment that you have established with them.

Onyanko Club was in all definitions the original Japanese idol super group. Like all idol groups Onyanko Club, were not without their share of problems as five members were released for before their debut for breaking one of the seven “Golden Rules” for Onyanko Club .Those rules were 1. Going to discos is forbidden.2. Writing your personal signature is forbidden.3. No drinking or smoking. 4. No boyfriends.5. When you go to the beach, you must have a guardian with you. 6. School first.7. No flashy outfits or heavy make-up.

In other words you cannot have any life other then school and Onyanko Club. Follow those rules and you will become a star, break those rules and you are gone. Like all rules, they are made to be broken, by those who try hard enough and this group had some who tried hard.

When Onyanko Club reached the point of a single debut on July 5, 1985, they entered the Oricon charts at #5 with “Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide" ("Don't take off my sailor uniform"), a song that everyone old enough to know of Onyanko Club remembers even today.



Sailor fuku wo nugasanaide would be their lowest ranked main group single. Single #2 Oyoshi ni natte ne TEACHER (1985.10.21) would enter at #2 ,then Onyanko Club followed that up with six #1 singles in a row ,before dropping a single in at #2 .

On the album front, Onyanko Club had only one album that was not ranked at #1-3, most were at #1 or #2.


When not making main unit records Onyanko Club were involved in all the same things that you see from idols today ,swimsuits, dramas, endorsements, movies, anime ,books, fan club events and variety shows . Onyanko Club had their own variety show that started four months before their debut single called Yuuyake Nyan Nyan [Sunset Meow Meow]. It was on this show that filmed episodes in and outside of Japan, which the concept of male dominated wota fan bases worshiping 16-22 year old idols took root and has become a large part of the economic structure of idol genre .One today cannot survive without the other.

Yuuyake Nyan Nyan [Basic Episode setup]
By the way for you Utaban fans, notice anyone famous on the show? Yes it`s the now famous Tunnels comedy team.








As part of their TV shows episodes time was devoted to member talents



Penalty games



Also on this show, they would also audition new members in front of the studio audience and vote in the ones they liked. Male audience members would compete in a contest for the opportunity of having their picture taken with their favorite member. Members competed in skills challenges to see who would get to sing their latest  single on the show and the painful idea that idols could graduate was started by this show.

It was also on this show that we learned that future Utaban host Ishibashi Takaaki could create the idea of comedy torment and Japanese baseball player names for idols and make it an established industry art.



Outside of the main unit, Onyanko Club developed the idea of sub units. Onyanko Club had Nyangilas, Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi and Ushirogami Hikaretai.

Ushiroyubi Sasaregumi never had a single below #8 and had five #1 singles in a row. And just like Sasaregumi the other two sub units, were equally successful.

Onyanko Club before their closure in 1987 produced no fewer then 12 major soloists all with top ten or top three releases.

Onyanko Club’s legacy goes beyond the accomplishments written here ,there is just not enough time to list them all .Even the smallest of accomplishment has help shape the industry today.

While Onyanko Club may not be spoken of often by today’s idols, they are  influenced by them. Onyanko Club used a member numbering system, Idoling!!! Uses the same system. AKB48, Morning Musume, Idoling!!! And many more groups use auditions and graduations to keep their franchises young. Every idol group big and small uses their own variety shows, Onyanko Club style marketing, and the wota support concept established by Onyanko Club as a way to support themselves.

Onyanko Club was the best of the best; they were the original idol super group.

1 comment:

  1. They're still my favorite idol group.

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