Skip Beat, J-Pop Idols, and Discovering Your Passion

No doubt, Kyoko Mogami is one of manga’s coolest characters. Originally introduced as meek and subservient to childhood friend and budding superstar, Shotaro Fuwa, she quickly reveals herself to be vindictive, determined, and a little crazy. In fact, Skip Beat focuses on Kyoko’s attempt to become an idol, not out of a search for fame or because she loves to entertain, but out of vengeance as she tries to hurt Shotaro, who dumped her after she had given so much to support him.

That’s definitely not typical of your usual idol. I’ve had a friend and another acquaintance try to become Korean idols (one made a debut and one left the industry shortly before making his), and I gotta tell you, vengeance was not a motivating factor for either; their motivators were more the usual kind, shared by Dancing Dolls R, an idol group I met this year at Anime Matsuri. The girls in that group have such an abiding passion for music that even though they mentioned to me some of their struggles in the industry, they remained. Mirei, a solo J-pop idol, said it as well: “I didn’t want to be famous, but I really love music and I really love to be on the stage, which is why I’m still here.”

But the fame certainly helps, as Mirei also admitted. And in fact, all four of the idols I interviewed mentioned the importance of their fans, emphasizing how grateful they were for them. The audience does make the artist after all. And, according to Sawara, a manager that takes Kyoko under his wing, that’s part of what’s missing with her—a love for the fans: “You can’t be a celebrity just to satisfy yourself…If you wish to succeed as a professional, you must always remember to love your audience and want to be loved by the audience.”

Kyoko is floored by this revelation, not because of the focus on audience, but because of the idea of love, the capability of which Kyoko believes was taken from her by Shotaro’s betrayal.

As the series goes along, Kyoko starts to find her “love,” regaining that ability that she thought was lost, as she develops as an actress, forms friendships, and even begins to travel down the road (perhaps?) toward a relationship. Ultimately, Kyoko is finding herself by remembering love.

I would agree with Sawara (and I think Kyoko learns the same) when he infers that passion can only become something significant if it is teamed with love. Kyoko needs to do just that to become an idol (and grow as a person). Similarly, the Dancing Dolls must put their passion for music together with a love for their fans.

And for me, I’ve found the same—I’ve been passionate about many things, but without that element of love, these affairs are brief and unproductive. The passion came and went. But when I support that passion with a foundation of love, as with how I seek to reach out to the otaku community through Beneath the Tangles or how I love and serve my family, I’m able to keep moving forward, to grow and make that passion into something worthwhile. Something lasting.

That seems to be key. Whether it has to do with idol work or work work, or anything else, passion can bud into success when accompanied by love—even if your name is Kyoko and your passion is vengeance!

What about you? What’s something your passionate about? Have you paired it with “love” in some way?


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