I always run from anything I don’t like.”
– Miyu Okamoto, Wake Up, Girls!
Wake Up, Girls! holds nothing back in highlighting the numerous disgusting facets of the idol industry, both in real life Japan and as represented in Japanese fictional media. The girls are subjected to the gaze of their drunken male live audience. They are objectified, forced to wear skimpy clothing while dancing, serving, and receiving propositions from older, menacing salarymen who have no concept of personal boundaries. It’s a personal hell to some in the group, a necessary step for others.
For Miyu Okamoto, it’s a significant departure from her humble origins at her maid cafe, performing in front of a similar yet familiar audience. After running away from her first oggle-filled occupation , she retreats to Maid in Sendai and performs a loving rendition of “Moeyo Chaos” to her crazed Otaku supporters. She has a devoted fan base, one that would never treat her the way she had been treated at her first gig with Wake Up, Girls!.
It’s through her performance and its reception that she realizes both the rude awakening that she’s received as a budding idol, and the uncomfortable steps that she must take in order to succeed in an industry that is clearly unkind to her. She wishes to break into a business that profits off of the objectification of women like herself, where she’ll often receive recognition based on qualities that contextualize her collective gender in a negative light.
The idol industry itself is a horrible, squicky thing, as discussed by many, but in it lies a lauded sphere of eminence that many wish to grace, that figurative Centre Nova that one wishes to achieve. From the viewpoint of a fan, it is incredibly difficult at first to sort out these feelings, supporting the individual and not the industry vices that the individual wishes to avert en route to penultimate popularity. At the end of the day, we learn to acknowledge and criticize the business but root for the idols themselves who gleam at the opportunity to legitimately chase their wildest dreams.
Yet, from the viewpoint of the idol herself, she has to put up with a lot of bullshit to get to where they want, and they ultimately have to sacrifice a bit of their pride in order to make it through the opportunities presented to them, favorable or otherwise. It’s a necessary sacrifice for them, and it’s unfortunate that they have to make them at all; but it’s that sort of mental and emotional fortitude that earns the support of those who genuinely love the idol and not the problematic industry of which they are part.
While I’ve come to the same realization of supporting those who wish to chase those dreams, I’ve also come to realize the nature of my own dreams and other opportunities that have been presented to me.
Recently, I accepted an offer for a position to produce written content for a well-known League of Legends esports website. I love League of Legends and the MOBA subgenre as a whole. I’m a horrifically average player, but I love learning about the strategic depth that comes with games such as these. I could have ended up loving other games like DotA or Smite, but with League as my formative multiplayer battle experience, I’ve come to learn so much about the game and the way it’s played at the highest levels that I’ve also come to love writing about it. And now I find myself on the precipice towards something amazing: the ability to write about something I love and to develop an even wider audience for it.
However, while my first opportunity to write at this level won’t begin until a little later on, I’ve become scared about what I myself am faced with. The esports world from a social aspect is utterly deplorable at times, filled with uncomfortable amounts of sexism, racism, homophobia, and more. It’s a sphere that is even more toxic than those I’ve written in before, simply because of the myriad of problems that microagressions that I will witness throughout my experience here. It’s uncomfortable, to the point of hesitation. I get so angry at the prospect of possibly having to put up with such a deplorable environment that, like Miyu, I find myself wanting to run away.
But here I am, in my own little garden of words, with my tiny readership consisting of those who have stuck with me from my anime blogging days, and perhaps even further back to my World of Warcraft blogging days as well. The story of my life is one of constantly drifting between places and experiences, and while writing is no different, I find myself drifting into yet another exciting phase.
Seeing Miyu in episode 2 of Wake Up, Girls! was an encouraging moment for me given the context of my own pursuit of a dream that requires meandering through a hazy path. It is through the love of her closest fans that she is given the strength to face her challenges head-on, and I can only wish to do the same. I hate the idol industry, but I love Miyu. I hate gamer culture, but I love video games, particularly watching them played at the highest level. I’m a walking contradiction, and unlike others, I’m still trying to sort myself out through all the grey. It might be a while before I become “pro-me,” but I’m glad that I have the support network that I have. They give me the encouragement to continue to find myself through my writing, and the courage to take on the opportunity that not many are ever given.
I’m excited to see what you can do with Wake Up, Girls!”
“Leave this place and make it big!”
“We’ll support you even more!”
In her meagre maid cafe in Sendai, Miyu loves her audience, and the audience loves her back. If you read this blog, or have read any of my other previous ones, you have essentially been an audience for myself. I’m thankful to have you, and I can’t wait to show you what I can do with the new opportunities that I have, even if it means I’ll have to put up with a lot of disgusting bullshit. It’s because of you that I keep reaching for the stars; I promise that I won’t let you down!