This is a fascinating documentary on the idol segment of Japan's entertainment industry - - and it most definitely is a facet, a winnowing process, for their entertainment sector. Prior to watching this enlightening documentary, I was confused by what I'd read about the idol industry: on the one hand, there were articles about creepy old guys showering attention on teenaged Japanese female idols while other articles made it sound like an entry-level segment of the Japanese entertainment industry, which indeed it is!
Most of the male fans - - and there are young and old female fans - - appear to range in age between 20 to 35 years old. For some it appears to be a male-bonding experience, more of older brothers showing support for younger siblings - - quite tribal in nature, and therefore quite Japanese. [It had never occurred to me - - prior to viewing this - - that given the rigid Japanese social structure there really aren't any equality-based group activities for the Japanese male - - now I grasp the popularity of those Samurai/Ronin themes!]
The documentary focuses on the young and sweet [and very industrious and hardworking] Rio, who like the other idol participants, is seeking to break into the highly competitive entertainment sector. To a neutral observer [IMHO, myself] it appears like one gigantic Mickey Mouse Club, with young female idols winning popularity contests [voted on by active, money-spending fan-consumers] to reach the next level, i.e., a singing contract, a voice part in a new Anime production, a movie or TV role, et cetera.
A lot of grueling work is undertaken by these young and hardworking idols, regardless of whether they succeed or fail!
And the idol industry seems like a predictable response to the devastating financial hits the Japanese economy has suffered these past 20-some years [with at least some blame going to the world's central bank, the Bank for International Settlements].
I can't imagine myself spending sums of money to support an idol [be a fan], but then I've never been a rock fan nor a sports fan, et cetera.
A Japanese feminist writer/journalist, Ms. Minori Kitahara, is a super-critic of the idol industry and suggests that the idols are feeding into men's fantasies, which may be accurate, except that it is structured - - entertainment industry-wise - - in the most meritocratic manner observable as entrance into an entertainment career - - which negates her commentary. Does journalist Kitahara wish to shut down the entire Japanese entertainment industry?
Justin Lowe, of The Hollywood Reporter, said this documentary // . . . reveals more contradictions than consensus \\ and he is exactly spot on!
From the link below:
// Kitahara observes scornfully that men no longer have to work at real relationships -- they simply buy fantasies. \\
The question might also be asked, why do men have to work so much at real relationships today??? [This documentary brings to mind a common business plan in America whereby corporations staff their sales forces with mostly women when their target of the sale are men - - the old computer corporation, DEC, used to employ 75% of their sales force with women, and many other examples for this business model exist. Not saying I support it, simply that it IS the reality!]