Dempagumi

  • Written by 
  • Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00
Dempagumi Movie photo © "Innocent Lilies" student council

Japanese Pop Idol Group, Dempagumi.inc Star in “Innocent Lilies”

Dempagumi.inc is a Japanese idol group, composed of six girls: Mirin Furukawa, Risa Aizawa, Nemu Yumemi, Eimi Naruse (Eitaso), Ayane Fujisaki (Pinky), and Moga Mogami. The group belongs to Dear Stage, Akihabara’s most famous idol live house and bar where they perform regularly. All of the members are fans [otaku] of anime, manga, games, and costumes. The group performed at Tokyo Collection and has collaborated with leading fashion designers including Mikio Sakabe. They attract attention overseas as well and have performed at fashion events in Jakarta, Indonesia and solo concerts in Taipei, Taiwan. They debuted in their first film entitled “Innocent Lilies” (Director Koichi Sakamoto & Screenwriter Reiko Yoshida) that was released both in theaters and online in September 2013.
TJ Contributor Asami Iida met with Denpagumi at the movie premier in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Interview by Asami Iida

J: Tell us how you got started in your careers?
LISA: We started at the audition of a PC game’s theme song at Dear Stage (a bar in Akihabara, Tokyo) where we now perform. Our membership has changed several times. Pinky and Moga joined recently so we now have six members.

TJ: What makes Dempagumi.inc different from other J-pop groups?
LISA: We are so different from the other J-pop groups! You immediately realize this because our songs have a lot of lyrics. Our live performances are so fast and over-whelming that you can’t take it all in if you only see it once.

TJ: Tell us about your new movie “Shiromajo gakuen” (“Innocent Lilies”).
MIRIN: Since it was my first acting experience, I was totally lost. The most difficult part was getting inside the character. I tried to communicate what the director wanted to express.
PINKY: I was so happy because I like the works of Mr. Sakamoto (Koichi) such as the “Power Rangers” and “Kamen Rider” stories. I did my best to thoroughly get into the “beaten” character by observing similar characters in videos.
LISA: It is an honor to be a part of this new project. The global online delivery, as well as the theatrical release, makes it possible for it to be seen in Japan and abroad. Since overseas audiences can watch it simultaneously, we tried to avoid creating a self-contained play and acted in a very serious mode.
MOGA: Our first challenge was to act out leading roles in a movie. We were so confused with the new experiences such as fullscale acting and actions. However, thanks to the instruction of many people, including Mr. Sakamoto, we were able to grow. Ms. Reiko Yoshida created the characters for each of us based on what we told her about ourselves. While it may not be obvious on screen, I have grown significantly thanks to this film that was supported by many people. I want to do it again.
EITASO: I am a big animation fan, so I always watch the names at the end of animated films. My favorite is Ms. Reiko Yoshida so I was so excited to hear that she wrote the script. She is very good at depicting the relationship between female friends, but the theme of this film is emotional damage. I was worried because it would be hard for us. But I think we did a good job, so please enjoy it.
NEMU: The film is full of the essence of Japanese Moe (love) culture in fashion and the way of seeing the world. The actions are also terrific. We are so proud because Japanese culture is delivered globally. It is a really informative film full of Japanese culture. Everyone must have had harsh experiences like the ones reflected in this film. So I think the audiences will enjoy it.

TJ: Which is more challenging for you: singing, dancing or acting? Why? Do you have plans to do more acting?
NEMU: I am interested in producing and I participated in producing a Dempagumi PV. It is fun to extract each member’s beauty. I sometimes take part in creating TV programs, and I am looking forward to creating each member’s corner.
EITASO: I want to be a multifaceted person. In Dempagumi, I feel that human qualities are tested. I have to respond to everything tactfully. I want to become a good speaker based on a wealth of knowledge in many fields including globalization and politics. It would be ideal for all the members to become more intellectual.
MOGA: For me, to work in society was a challenge. After all, I became an idol! I have been given an opportunity to sing, dance and act, but I am still immature. Since I am not satisfied with my performance, I should focus on everything. It might sound odd, but I have no dreams and Dempagumi is something to live for. So I will continue to do my best to keep my position in Dempagumi.
LISA: I wanted to become an animation character, so I wanted to become a voice actor. Therefore, I am also interested in voice acting.
PINKY: I am not a good speaker. Since I don’t talk to friends very often, I am not good at responding politely. I want to be a good speaker. My goal is to be a good MC like the other members. I want to become an adult.
MIRIN: I want to improve my conversation ability. Since I used to be very active in virtual or practical games, ordinary conversation with real people is difficult for me. I want to be a good storyteller on other topics besides the weather.

TJ: What is your favorite manga or anime?
MIRIN: “Final Fantasy XIV.”
PINKY: The problem-solving game “Danganronpa,” the animation “Madoka Magica” and the foreign drama “Sherlock.”
MOGA: The animation “Cowboy Bebop” (I was excited when I found their booth at Japan Expo).
EITASO: I fell in love with “Free!” The boys are so beautiful, but I focus on the beautifully drawn spray of water and lights.
NEMU: Everybody besides Moga fell in love with “Monster Hunter 4.”

TJ: Do you hang out together when you are not performing?
LISA: We spend more time together than other idols so our private time is important. We feel comfortable around each other and we don’t have any troubles. We sometimes eat together after work, but we don’t spend our free time together that often. Mirin often invites us to the ramen shop.

TJ: What is Dempagumi for you: friends or family?
LISA: Neither. It is a party like in RPG [role-playing games] games such as Dragon Quest! It is like we are the fellows who fight together or the fellows in a single boat in “One Piece.” Every member has a different role such as a cook or musician and all are essential.

TJ: You have performed in the U.S., France and Taiwan. Were the audiences abroad different than in Japan? How?
LISA: They are the same in a good way. Foreign fans passionately watch PVs or performances on YouTube because they can’t come to see us live. They learn the dialogue through YouTube videos in advance. They surprise us when they use the same color of cyalumes for a member’s birthday card. Borders don’t matter; we are moved regardless of where our fans are from.

TJ: Where would you most like to perform?
LISA: We want to perform in London! In our favorite anime “K-On” by Reiko Yoshida the characters dreamed of going to London. Because of that, we have an image that London is a holy place for music, so next time we would like to perform in London.

TJ: What message do you have for Tokyo Journal readers?
LISA: Recently we have been increasingly acknowledged as part of avant-garde Japanese culture. We used to be ashamed of our geekiness, but now we communicate the beauty of Japanese culture as geeky representatives. So we want to learn more about the world and share the information we gather with fans. Since we are regarded as representatives of Japan to foreigners, we will do our best to live up to Japan’s name. tj

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