Slices of Japanese business, politics and life
Mention the Isle of Man to somebody from Britain and they might be able to tell you it’s the venue for a famous motorbike race. Utter the name of the place to some Japanese people and there’s a reasonable chance they’ll know it as the home of 14-year-old schoolgirl cum entertainer Beckii Cruel.
Musicians ranging from dour European indie bands to obscure free jazz artists have long been able to boast of dedicated fans in Japan, but most can only dream of the popularity that this teenager from the UK has – rather bizarrely – started to generate for herself here in the last year.
Videos of Cruel dancing in her bedroom to the theme tunes of famous manga programmes, while dressed as their lead characters originally struck a chord with some of Japan’s “otaku”, a word often translated as “geek”, when they were picked up from YouTube by a popular Japanese website.
But Cruel’s success is now becoming more mainstream – she regularly features on entertainment news pages – and this week’s release of her latest single (a cover version of an old J-pop favourite) looks set to propel her firmly beyond the streets of the otaku Mecca, Tokyo’s Akihabara district.
Struggling musicians have long made dubious claims about being “big in Japan” in a bid to compensate for weak record sales at home.
But Susan Boyle, the 48-year-old who swept to fame in Britain and the U.S. after an appearance on reality TV, looks to be genuinely on the cusp of becoming a household name in the suburbs of Nagoya, Osaka and Tokyo.