In this age of what is often described as the idol warring period, when a number of cute idol groups skilled at both singing and dancing are competing with each other, the all-girl group Yumemiru Adolescence (Dreaming Adolescence) stands out in many ways.
The group was formed in 2012, mainly with models from popular teen fashion magazines. Affectionately called "Yume-Ado," the group expresses on the stage what it's like to be in the middle of adolescence - no longer children, but not yet adults - attracting a wide range of fans.
The five members' average age is 17.2.
If you experience a show by these girls in mid-adolescence, you'll certainly be overwhelmed by their energy.
In addition to enchanting the audience with their swift music and dances performed in perfect unison, the group captivates their fans with their talking between songs, making fans feel as if they're listening to the cheerful conversations of middle and high school students in their classroom.
In contrast to their classic beauty, the group suddenly sounds so mischievous when they talk - the gap is very intriguing.
At a live show in Akihabara, Tokyo, in late November, they talked about what wish they would have come true, things like stopping time or the ability to become invisible.
"I wouldn't have to pay to get on a plane or train," Kyoka, the group's youngest member, said with a smile, explaining why she wants to become invisible.
Akari Yamada wanted to stop time, saying, "I want to sleep as much as I like by stopping time."
The girls are cheerful, funny and easy to like. Above all, they are all outstandingly good-looking, and they seem aware of that.
"When it comes to looks, no other idol group can beat us. Of course we're proud of our high beauty standard," Yamada said.
Another one of the group's strengths is the delicate sensibilities that are distinct in girls during adolescence.
Kyoka introduced her favourite phrase from the group's song "Mawaru Sekai" (Revolving world), ranked 10th in the Oricon weekly ranking: "I cannot pretend to be an adult, but cannot stay a child, either."
"[I feel] exactly like this phrase. I feel troubled every day, so this lyric sounds very real to me," she said.
High-spirited Yumi Shida referred to "Go! Go! Run against the wall," a phrase from the group's song "17:30 no Anime" (Anime at 17:30), a song that always excites the audience.
"While you are young, you should challenge yourself with a variety of things. I don't want to have regrets as a grown-up, thinking something like, 'I should have done such and such back then," Shida said.
But when it comes to her academic ability, Shida laughed at herself, saying, "It's at a level that makes me wonder how I've managed to survive until now," she said.
Having said that, she suddenly looked depressed and added, "To tell you the truth, I'm an extremely serious person." Shida's emotional ups and downs seem as extreme as Kyoka's.
The group's producer, 30-year-old Kiminori Ito explained their charm.
"They are girls with a mysterious aura of distance, seeming to be within one's grasp but actually not. Their sensibilities, hidden behind their cheerful demeanour, also make them attractive," he said.
Of course, the group has many other good points.
"We're confident that we're very close to each other, much more than any other group," Rei Kobayashi said.
Group leader Karin Ogino said she wants people to focus on individual members' activities.
"Individually, we're also active as voice actors, actresses and fashion models, doing good work. I want people to pay attention to such points," Ogino said.
At concerts, they sing a wide variety of songs, including numbers with a J-Pop feel, ballads and rock, as well as highly artistic songs. With their broad coverage of music genres, the group has the ability to entertain the audience.
"I want everybody across the world to know Yume-Ado," Ogino said. "We're seriously aiming to be the top group, not only at home, but also in the global market."
In May and October last year, the group gave live performances in Thailand, welcomed by enthusiastic fans. The group plans to spread their activities to the rest of the world, beginning with other Asian countries.
As long as they do not forget their spirit of challenge, their "adolescence" will continue, regardless of their age. If all the members retain the enthusiasm they have now, they may be able to make their dream come true.
Concert Tour Schedule:
Yumemiru Adolescence will make its major-label debut on March 18 with a CD single titled "Bye Bye My Days."
Starting in the same month, the group will hold a series of concerts in three major cities:
March 1 at umeda Akaso in Osaka; March 8 at Shimokitazawa Garden in Tokyo (two concerts in one day); March 21 at Nagoya ell.Fits All in Nagoya; April 25 at Nakano Sunplaza in Tokyo
Visit http://yumeado.com for details.