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The Curious Case of Sally Amaki, the Bilingual Idol




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CorneredAngel



Joined: 17 Jun 2002
Posts: 830
Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 1:26 pm Reply with quote
I know the scale is completely different, but, compare to Ryan Redmond, the *not-Japanese* (but very much an otaku) member of Astral Code - https://and-project.net/artist/astralcode
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SubaruSumeragi22



Joined: 22 May 2013
Posts: 17
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 5:12 pm Reply with quote
Here you can get a glimpse of Sally's character Fujima Sakura from 22/7 talking english in her position as a VTuber.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IrqXCa6BxWM
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Aresef



Joined: 22 Jun 2005
Posts: 546
Location: MD
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 6:15 pm Reply with quote
This is a really cool story.

I remember when AKB48 performed in DC back around 2010, there was a member at the time, Hirata Rina, who was born in Arizona and who spoke English with native fluency. She did a lot of the MCing during the show.
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BlueAlf



Joined: 02 Jan 2017
Posts: 754
PostPosted: Wed Jan 22, 2020 8:48 pm Reply with quote
Sally is our meme queen.

She's one of the few strangers I know who I sincerely wish will have a happy and fulfilling life.
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omoikane



Joined: 03 Oct 2005
Posts: 419
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 11:31 am Reply with quote
I find this article really ...more like a paid endorsement, but it isn't because those would at least get the facts right. Like, lol, Love Live is not real idol, it's fictional idol.

What Sally is, God bless her, is the kind of memelord that people enjoying themselves on the internet like. And the grassroot aspect of that propelled her status within 22/7 and 22/7 on the whole. I think she's doing well, for someone in that particular business--idols who are also seiyuu. And that gives her a platform to show that memelord side. But it's important to separate real idols from fictional idols. They are fundamentally different.

Also, what makes an idol an idol is the usual idol activities--meeting fans, performing in public, releasing music, doing other showbiz stuff. In the age of SNS people overseas can get a better glimpse of the development of idols and cheer them on from the early days, see what they did every day, etc., that part is true generally. Idol showbiz content doesn't get a lot of localization love. However "in depth media coverage" definitely has not happened, not even for Sally. If that was the case, fans have long been covering their own idols of interests in English since the 90s (as Internet became widespread). I've been doing some degrees of this for at least a decade.

Again, what makes Sally special is her millennial attitude, taking SNS by the horns, and flaunting her American sensibilities & English, in a predominantly Japanese/Korean field. Which is really not that similar to, lol, people following Love Live in a LL discord.
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mrsatan



Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 741
Location: Olympia, WA
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:08 pm Reply with quote
Huh. It's really interesting watching her code-shifting back and forth between the cutesy-poo idol Japanese personality (Tatemae) and her real American personality (Honne).

I kind of do this myself, but not as successfully as she does.
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SpacemanHardy



Joined: 03 Jan 2012
Posts: 2435
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 12:36 pm Reply with quote
If whoever licenses the 22/7 anime decides to give it an English dub, I hope they'll be able to get Sally to voice her own character in both English and Japanese. Seeing as how actors and directors don't have to be in the same booth to record anymore, it should technically be possible.

Granted, most idol shows don't really get dubbed, so this is all hypothetical anyway
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tomdean



Joined: 22 Jan 2018
Posts: 59
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 5:12 pm Reply with quote
"She was rebuffed at many turns because, having grown up overseas, she hadn't mastered honorific language in Japanese"

Imagine being a talent scout(manager and turning down people based on...not their talent.
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mrsatan



Joined: 06 Jul 2005
Posts: 741
Location: Olympia, WA
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:03 pm Reply with quote
tomdean wrote:
"She was rebuffed at many turns because, having grown up overseas, she hadn't mastered honorific language in Japanese"

Imagine being a talent scout(manager and turning down people based on...not their talent.


When I lived in Japan, Hikaru Utada was really popular and I heard the same story about her. I was told that she wasn't allowed to do talk shows because she could speak keigo properly.

I can't stress how important keigo is. It's not just pronouns and honorifics, it's verb forms and more. I could never learn it either and I ended up pissing off a lot of people because I spoke too bluntly.

I understand the Japanese are a little bit more lenient with gaijin, but Japanese-Americans are not given that pass. If you look Japanese, you're expected to act like one.
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GhostStalkerSA



Joined: 17 May 2015
Posts: 356
Location: NYC
PostPosted: Thu Jan 23, 2020 9:19 pm Reply with quote
mrsatan wrote:
tomdean wrote:
"She was rebuffed at many turns because, having grown up overseas, she hadn't mastered honorific language in Japanese"

Imagine being a talent scout(manager and turning down people based on...not their talent.


When I lived in Japan, Hikaru Utada was really popular and I heard the same story about her. I was told that she wasn't allowed to do talk shows because she could speak keigo properly.

I can't stress how important keigo is. It's not just pronouns and honorifics, it's verb forms and more. I could never learn it either and I ended up pissing off a lot of people because I spoke too bluntly.

I understand the Japanese are a little bit more lenient with gaijin, but Japanese-Americans are not given that pass. If you look Japanese, you're expected to act like one.

I think you mean couldn’t here.

Also, this tracks with what a friend who works with companies in Japan mentioned a couple weeks back when 22/7 was brought up. Apparently Japanese fans of the group despise kaigai fans, because they assume that they were only interested because of Sally’s meme potential and not the group’s music as a whole, plus possibly overshadowing their own oshis in the group. I dunno how true that is, but I have no reason to distrust something he says he witnessed at the last 22/7 event he went to.
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Shay Guy



Joined: 03 Jul 2009
Posts: 1089
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 12:43 am Reply with quote
Quote:
One of the biggest appeals of idols is following the growth in their careers, from their humble early days to their shining peaks.


Not being into idol fandom, this kinda puzzles me. Imagine that some idol has, I dunno, 100 fans early in her career. And that number grows until she peaks at 100,000 fans. Then only a tenth of a percent of those fans have actually been fans since those humble early days, and a majority became fans when she already had tens of thousands of other fans. So if only a fraction of her fans followed her from the time she had a fraction of her peak fanbase... how is it such a big part of the idol appeal?

Maybe in general, I'm just not sure what's being sold. Music? Performances? Or is it a story? Is the idol industry secretly pro wrestling with less punching? "Famous for being famous" is weird enough; "popular for her ability to make people want her to be popular" feels even more confusingly circular. I'm probably even missing a phrase or two in that description! "Popular because lots of people think she should be popular", maybe?

(I mean, does liking her actual work come into it anywhere? And if you're a fan who wants her to be more popular, do you try to sell other people on her work? Or sell them on the narrative, convincing them they should want other people to like her work? Or is it a pure ouroboros of narrative, with the work itself nothing more than a MacGuffin? Am I even making sense?)

Actually, I'm not even sure if a typical idol is at all a creative in her own right, in addition to being a performer. Like, how many write their own songs or choreography?

mrsatan wrote:
Huh. It's really interesting watching her code-shifting back and forth between the cutesy-poo idol Japanese personality (Tatemae) and her real American personality (Honne).

I kind of do this myself, but not as successfully as she does.


Though I imagine a lot of her English persona is also a performance.
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omoikane



Joined: 03 Oct 2005
Posts: 419
PostPosted: Fri Jan 24, 2020 1:10 pm Reply with quote
Shay Guy wrote:

Not being into idol fandom, this kinda puzzles me. Imagine that some idol has, I dunno, 100 fans early in her career. And that number grows until she peaks at 100,000 fans. Then only a tenth of a percent of those fans have actually been fans since those humble early days, and a majority became fans when she already had tens of thousands of other fans. So if only a fraction of her fans followed her from the time she had a fraction of her peak fanbase... how is it such a big part of the idol appeal?

I think it's fair to say that a lot of people do not follow a group from the start, like you pointed out. A lot of people do keep following a group for some time, however, for the reason you are criticizing. So think of it as a way to retain a stake or interest in keeping up with how your oshi is doing, or why wotas do what wotas do. When there are as many idol acts in Japan, it's easy to find a group to root for and that whole time you're doing it, you are watching the idols you are rooting mature.

Also, in JP idol scenes, having 100k fans means you have made it big. Most groups that makes it to 100k fans level of popularity don't begin with just 100 fans. Idol groups sometimes come from nowhere but are more often created with people or companies who have been working the biz, and may already have a following or brand recognition. 22/7 for example, launched as a major label group from the get go, and is produced by the guy who created AKB48. So they didn't start at 0 fans. Or even 1000. They started with a lot of attention relatively.
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enurtsol



Joined: 01 May 2007
Posts: 13771
PostPosted: Sat Jan 25, 2020 2:30 pm Reply with quote
Shay Guy wrote:

Actually, I'm not even sure if a typical idol is at all a creative in her own right, in addition to being a performer. Like, how many write their own songs or choreography?


So few of them go on to music careers after they "graduate" (instead they do other things) - so ya have to wonder if they're actually learning anything musically while they invested years as a musical act.
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Breckal



Joined: 26 Jan 2020
Posts: 1
PostPosted: Sun Jan 26, 2020 2:35 am Reply with quote
I'm not really into the Idol scene but reading this article reminded me of another fluent English speaking idol from an older group called Morning Musume. I remember while looking for documentaries on modern Japan I found a youtube channel that uploaded a series of skits called Ayaka's Surprise lesson, where the bilingual member Ayaka would quiz other members in English.

They were a lot more stage managed with intros and graphics but they were kinda fun too.
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