The Nico Nico Douga video sharing website has made a rapid rise and is still growing. One of the popular categories on this site is “Odotte-mita” (I tried this dance). DANCEROID is a dance group that was formed in 2009 specifically to appear in this category.
People are split into those who know them and those who don’t. But for those who do know them in the world of Nico Nico Douga their presence and world view have made them a popular charismatic group. According to the leader, Itokutora (AKA Ikura), the number of views in the “Odotte-mita” category will soon pass 3 million. The other members that make up the quartet are Aikawa Kozue who dances “Luka Luka★Night Fever,” Maamu and Yuzu Hime . With an average age of 21 they have already toured America, Singapore and Shanghai and have taken the position of representing Japan’s next generation of pop icons. In their teens they grew up watching Nico Nico Douga, so I suppose you could say they are part of that new generation. We asked them how they rose to this position and what they think of their status. This interview might just give an insight into what direction Japan is heading.
"We invite guests to events we organize and it's like one big party (lol)" Edit
asianbeat (ab): Could you please tell me your names?
ab： How did the unit start out?
Ikura: DANCEROID started out when we uploaded a dance video to a VOCALOID song on the Nico Nico Douga site’s “Odotte-mita,” so we just took the name VOCALOID and changed it to DANCEROID. That was just over 2 years ago.
ab： How did you all meet and how did you arrive at your current style?
Itokutora: I was asked to be in an “Odotte-mita” DVD, and at the time I asked Aikawa Kozue and another dancer, Minka, who were both performing on Odotte-mita to join me and form a group. But Minka has since “graduated” from the group. After that we held auditions and Maamu and Yuzu Hime joined. That’s how the unit originated. Our agency always wanted to make a DVD of “Odotte-mita” dancers, and that’s how the group came to be. At the time of the audition 3 new members joined the unit, but at our last solo concert in July one “graduated” and now we are a 4 member unit.
ab： What kind of dance do you perform and where?
Itokutora: It is mostly live concerts and we also make DVDs. Back when we had 5 members we released 2 DVDs, and we are hoping to release another next year with our current 4 member lineup. In addition to the DVD, Yuzu Hime has designed our original DANCEROID uniforms and goods. We have also uploaded a number of dance videos as DANCEROID on Nico Nico Douga and YouＴube. We also perform at fashion shows and dance at game events. At the events that we organize we invite “Odotte-mita” dancers and also some other guests and it’s like one big party (lol).
ab： What kind of people do you invite from “Odotte-mita” ?
Itokutora: We ask famous personalities from “Odotte-mita” to join us. For example there is a famous song on “Odotte-mita” called “Chirno no Perfect Sansu Kyoshitsu” (Chirno’s Perfect Algebra Class), and we have asked the choreographer kuu.-san, Kyoufu-san, and others including a unit made up of the twins Wota no Musume/Meshi Tsukai.
ab： Who does the choreography?
Itokutora: It is mostly done by MTP sensei, but Kozue did the choreography for “Lily Lily★Burning Night” and “FirstKiss,” and I did it on Toho Project’s “Miracle∞Hinacle” on the DVD with the 5 of us performing. As well as 3 tracks on the DVD. I should also mention that Kozue’s hallmark piece is “Luka Luka★Night Fever.”
Kozue: But that is before DANCEROID got together and it was just a hobby. Since then we formed the unit and the person who composed “Luka Luka★Night Fever” just happened to belong to the same agency. That’s why most of DANCEROID’s music has been provided by samfree. Various other Vocalo P’s (Vocaloid song producers) compose for us too, though.
Itokutora: Basically, the Vocalo P’s compose original music especially for DANCEROID. When we were a 5 member unit and released the DVD, the vocals were done by a female vocalist from Nico Nico Douga. We are an idol group that doesn’t sing so we got someone else to do the singing while we danced.
"The Shanghai fans went so crazy they stormed our rooms backstage"Edit
ab： Which overseas countries have you toured and what was the reaction in each place?
Itokutora: Up until now only Kozue and myself have been overseas. We have visited Singapore, LA and San Francisco in the USA and Shanghai in China. The reactions have been different in each country.
ab： Which place had the best response?
Itokutora: The reactions were just so different it’s hard to pick just one, but I think the American audience really got moving.
Kozue: Shanghai was the biggest shock for me!Itokutora: In a way Shanghai had the craziest fans; they tried to storm our dressing rooms backstage wanting to take photos with us – which was great – but they wouldn’t leave and camped outside the door. We couldn’t even go to the toilet (lol).
ab： Were those events for video games or anime?
Kozue: Most are cosplay or Hatsune Miku events.
Itokutora: In LA we performed at the Mikunopolis Hatsune Miku event. In Singapore Hatsune Miku appeared in 3D on a transparent screen so we were at that live event to perform as the curtain raiser. It was a huge hall but there was a specific angle range that you had to be within to view Miku and the 7000 tickets sold out. In that atmosphere I remember being very nervous and the jet lag was pretty rough too (lol).
ab： How many years ago was that?
Itokutora: It was a few months ago. The new member joined one year ago but at the time 2 of us were selected to go. But all 4 of us would like to go overseas this year – is that asking too much?
Kozue: The fans in America and Singapore try their hardest to do all the wotagei they know. Seems they learned it from Japanese wotagei videos.
Itokutora: They even have cyalume (glow sticks). Each country has its own unique flavor. Some people overseas who upload their own videos watch us too, and I think it’s fantastic that we can go to their country, dance on stage and meet them in person. I hope to meet as many fans in as many countries as possible.
"I used to check the (Nico Nico Douga) news before going to school."Edit
ab: Is there anything or person that has influenced you?
Itokutora: I always liked watching Nico Nico Douga and I knew about the “Odotte-mita” category. When I was little I took dance lessons and I got into it later, posting my own dance videos. The person who influenced me at the time was the popular dancer, Abeko-san. She looked good, had a great proportion and her dances were really fun. I thought that if I posted a video people would think the same about me.
Maamu:I joined by audition, but even before then I used to love watching Itokutora-san and Kozue-san on Nico Nico Douga, so I guess you could say that they influenced me (lol). Sensei was also really famous and I never dreamed that I would ever meet him. I was never really a dancer, I just wached and mimicked. I started full-on dance training after I joined up.
Kozue: The group that prompted me to post a video was an idol group called “Kanzen Maid Sengen” (Total Maid Declaration). I saw their PV on YouTube. Later I saw Hello Project’s PV and that reinvigorated my passion to become an idol (lol). Just when I was about to become an idol otaku I saw 47-san’s video (he was quite famous at the time) and I decided that I would give it a try. I used to go to dance school.
Yuzu Hime: I joined with Maamu at the same audition. Before that I used to watch Odotte-mita and with a group of friends I wanted to learn how to dance “Harebare Yukai” from “Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu.” When we were searching the net we came across a group dancing at Akihabara, and watching them made us want to progress to Nico Nico Douga.
ab: How long have you been into Nico Nico Douga?
Itokutora: It’s been about 4 or 5 years since I started watching and soon after uploaded a video.
Maamu: My big brother got me onto it when I was in high school so about 4 to 5 years.
Kozue: My little brother showed me and at about the same time I uploaded, so about 3 years.
Yuzu Hime: It’s been about 2 or 3 years for me.
Itokutora: I have been watching it forever. It’s not like TV though; you have to continually check the rankings and such if you want to keep up with all the latest info and trends. Things on “Odotte-mita” go in and out of fashion so to keeping up with what’s hot on Nico Nico Douga is a never-ending task.
Maamu: In any case I would check the ranking, and if there was a video zooming up the charts I would check the news and watch it before I went to school.
ab: Did you talk about Nico Nico Douga at school?
Yuzu Hime: Yes, around the time I was finishing high school.
Kozue: I first found out about Nico Nico Douga from my school friends. But recently there are a lot of really young kids watching. Some elementary and junior high school kids do their own Nico live broadcasts – it’s scary. Don’t do it kids, you’re too young to be crossing over into this world. But I can understand how they get hooked – it’s a scary world.
"We hope DANCEROID videos give you a lift."Edit
ab: asianbeat is a site for Japanese pop culture. It there anything that you are into right now?
Itokutora: I’m into Twitter. I like the anime “Rurouni Kenshin” and my favorite character is Kenshin – because he is ‘deretsun.’ Deretsun is the opposite of tsundere. Normally he is delicate, but when the moment arrives he turns serious. I want to find a three dimensional (real life) deretsun!
Maamu: I like the anime “Evangelion” and “Eden of the East.” I want to marry the character Takizawa in Eden of the East. Recently I’m into video games too, like “Persona 4” which is a game-type animation. So you can see I like games and anime. Kozue: I like Hello Project. I know everyone likes it but I especially like Berryz Kobo’s Tsugunaga Momoko (AKA Momochi). But I also like Morning Musume, S/mileage and ℃-ute. My favorite anime is “The Prince of Tennis.” My favorite 3 characters are Oshitari Yushi, Atobe Keigo and Fuji Shūsuke.
Yuzu Hime: I like video games – horror games and gal games. I like the ‘gal’ games where the lead boy tries to win the girl’s heart in a romance simulation game. I like the 2 dimensional female game characters. So I prefer gal games to ‘otome’ games where the girl tries to win the boy’s heart.
ab: In recent years Nico Nico Douga has been under the spotlight as a unique kind of new media. What do you think about this attention?
Itokutora: It’s fantastic. We have many opportunities to travel overseas, and whenever we go to an expo or event with a Nico Nico Douga booth you can really feel the whole world is watching. And the official Nico Nico Douga events are hot too. The other day there was a Nico Nico Dancemaster event where “Odotte-mita” was the main attraction and we 4 performed to a great crowd who really got going. It was great fun and it made me really appreciate Nico Nico Douga.
ab: What do you think of the popularity of Japan’s pop culture abroad?
Kozue: I think it’s really interesting.
Itokutora: I think it is a great economic stimulus.
Kozue: The attention to minute detail that overseas cosplayers pay is great. It’s as if they had jumped out of the 2-dimensional screen. And they have such great body proportion too - it’s not fair! Metal gear (action game) etc. are just too real!
Yuzu Hime: The detail in recreating the costumes is intense.
Itokutora: They are so wrapped up in it, and they’re perfectionists. I admire their attitude.
ab: Do you cosplay?
Yuzu Hime: I used to be a cosplayer you know! When I was in high school I often joined in cosplay events.
Itokutora: We are all interested in it. We were able to perform in the SEGA booth at the Tokyo Game Show and we all cosplayed as VOCALOID. The characters we cosplayed were Hatsune Miku, Megurine Luka, Kagamine Rin & Len and MEIKO.
ab: What does the future hold for DANCEROID?
Itokutora: The 4 of us want to debut overseas and we are yet to do a national tour as well. So we’d like to put out a new DVD and then travel around, meeting all our fans in Japan and overseas.
ab: Do you have a message for all the young users visiting our website?
Itokutora: I wish I was young again! We are all adults now (lol).
Yuzu Hime: Try as many different things while you are young and take in as much as you can.
Maamu: And maybe you could “take in” some DANCEROID videos on Youtube and Nico Nico Douga while you’re at it too.
Kozue: When you are young you probably have a lot of hang-ups, as I did when I was your age. But I hope that by watching a DANCEROID video you can forget all your worries, feel refreshed and go to school feeling good. We want to make you smile. Let’s all make a cycle of happiness♪