Interview: Miss Revolutionary Idol Beserker

Summer has been a washout this year in London, and with more rain forecast for the weekend, we have the perfect remedy to banish your blues!  Tokyo based pop star Toco Nikaido has arrived with her brand new stage show Miss Revolutionary Idol Beserker, and she seems to have brought the sunshine with her.  Described as 'part pop concert, part controlled chaos' you can expect a fun, high-energy and interactive experience that will definitely life your spirits.  There are still tickets left for Friday and Saturday evening at The Barbican, with two shows on each day, at 6.30 and 9.30pm, so if you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, look no further!  

Love Japan caught up with the Toco Nikaido to find out a bit more...

Firstly, congrats on a successful tour so far.  Can you tell us about how the concept for Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker came about? 

I use pop idol songs, anime songs, otaku culture, and subcultural icons to represent the contemporary Japanese landscape. Otagei are dances that the otaku fans perform at concerts to cheer the pop idol on during her performance.  

Starting from my experience as a sort of internet celebrity (or underground pop idol) when I was a college student, I’ve been experimenting with turning otaku culture into art. Around the same time there was this huge boom or renaissance in the underground pop idol scene happening in Tokyo, so I would go to these concerts quite often. 

What really shocked me were the fanatical otaku fans in the crowd.  That’s when I thought that perhaps the 'culture' I was looking for was actually in the audience. If the audience is more alive and energetic than the performer onstage, then perhaps that’s what we all should really be watching; that “culture” is more valuable and worthy to be put on a stage.  I still carry this idea with me, and even in my own shows I like to think of the audience as the main character or protagonist of the piece. 

Where else have you performed?

London is actually the last stop on our tour, we’ve performed all over the world and the audiences from every country have a completely different reaction each time. Japanese people, for instance, are generally rather shy and get embarrassed easily, so Japanese audiences don’t really like to lose themselves in the work, but instead take a step back and just observe.
In Germany, something similar seems to occur where the audience takes a step back and observes the piece. However once they’ve sort of processed it in their minds and have come to some sort of understanding, there’s this strong desire to really talk about the show.
The Netherlands and Australia were really letting themselves go. Even though most of the songs are Japanese and there are a lot of culture references that didn’t stop them from just have fun and letting loose. It was a very welcoming mood and they got really riled up.

Without giving too much away of course, what can the audience expect from the show?

Normally we have around 25 performers, and the otagei that we perform on stage are not relaxed or impromptu. In fact, we train our actors very strictly so that the cheers are almost like military drills. They can convey a wealth of information at maximum high-speed and the dances are always directed out into the audience to cheer on the viewers. The performance itself is roughly 50 minutes long with the actors dancing non-stop to create this chaotic atmosphere. Tons of water is thrown about, so the audience has to wear raincoats. There is confetti and loads of props are used in place of a static set. We also use glow sticks to light this world.

For my performance, I like to quote or pick up things that I feel can represent what’s 'pop' and 'now'. This show is marked by unbelievable passion held together by the strict rule that we absolutely must not bore the audience. It is truly the first show of its kind in Japan and this style of performance I have coined as 'Ohagi Live'.

We have crossed the wide sea to come and see you. Even though we have never met you, we are dying to meet you and to rock your world and take your hand and become friends. And we’d like you to be in the show as well. And please create a local fan club for us! I’m sure this is a world that you’ve never seen before. Are you ready to have your hearts stolen? This is the first show of its kind in Japan and the rest of the world—a happy miraculous, hysterical, participatory piece of world-class entertainment.

Yoroshiku onegaishimasu!  

If you'd like to catch Toco Nikaido as Miss Revolutionary Idol Beserker at The Barbican before she heads back to Japan, you can get your hands on tickets here - but hurry, as there are only 2 more days left!