Perhaps you are one of the 9 million people who clicked on the YouTube video featuring a giant bearded wrestler in a school uniform dancing around the streets of Tokyo with two cute Japanese school girls, when the debut of “Nippon Manju” went viral. Well, that team is back and action and now here in the States!
This past weekend at New York Comic Con, the internet sensation known as “LADYBABY” made their US debut with a live concert, then made their way to Los Angeles on Wednesday to sing and dance their way into Angelenos’ hearts at their live concert at Anime Jungle in Little Tokyo.
Left to right: Rei Kuromiya, Ladybeard, and Rie Kaneko
At their press conference, held before their performance in the small collectibles store, all three members of LADYBABY lived up to the hype as they jumped and danced on stage, with the lead member, Ladybeard, declaring, “KONNICHIWA! We are the singing, dancing, DESTROYING, kawaii, pop idols from Japan: LADYBABY desu!”
Frontman Ladybeard, who hails from Australia, has been performing in Japan since 2013 as a cross dressing heavy metal singer and professional wrestler. His imposing figure and manly beard clash wildly with the cute maid costumes and school uniforms he is often seen wearing, which garnered him enough media attention to catch the eye of the CEO of Clearstone Clothing. In Ladybeard’s words, the CEO saw a photo of him and exclaimed, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?”, and immediately called in Ladybeard in for a meeting in order to create a pop idol group to promote his brand, which mainly produces Japanese cosplay costumes and wigs. Rie Kaneko and Rei Kuromiya, Ladybeard’s super kawaii counterparts, both competed in the Miss ID idol contest, which allowed them the opportunity to be in the idol group.
At both the press conference and the performance, Ladybeard took the lead on introducing the group, engaging the audience with his dad-joke humor, while the girls supported him on either side, alternately rolling their eyes at his lame jokes or quietly answering questions.
The sudden skyrocketing success doesn’t seem to have gone to the band members’ heads at all. Ladybeard constantly thanked the audience for following the band and coming to the performance with a big grin throughout the night. Ladybeard mentioned that after the video went viral, he was completely floored by the flood of messages he recieved about it, as well as the 20,000 likes he got on his Facebook page in one day. The video itself received its first 5 million hits in just two weeks.
Nippon Manju (which means “Japanese Buns”), is LADYBABY’s “ode to Japan,” Ladybeard commented, which was a celebration of all the things they love about their home–including food, places, and culture. Their video created an extremely supportive fan base for LADYBABY. One Japanese fan even flew from Japan to New York, and then to Los Angeles, to support their beloved kawaiicore band.
At Anime Jungle on October 13th, the lines stretched on through the hundreds, with fans showing up early and hoping to secure a wristband that guaranteed them a spot in the crowd at the free concert. One fan, Sarah Garcia, mentioned that she arrived at 1 PM and was about the hundredth person in line. For these fans, the wait was worth it. Although LADYBABY has released only one song, the fans they have garnered were ecstatic to get a chance to see them live in Los Angeles. Lauren Kramer, an avid fan of both heavy metal music and the kawaii J-Pop scene, said she was overjoyed when her boyfriend first showed her the LADYBABY video this past summer. “This is what I’ve been waiting for: a collaboration between heavy metal and J-Pop!”
250 people filled the venue to capacity, with some late fans being turned away, and the energy of the show was pure electric. Fans chanted “LADYBABY,” while waiting for the band to come on stage. Starting with a short question and answer session hosted by Risa Takeda of Cherry Jelly Productions, the band quickly launched into their new song, which they filmed the music video for while in New York and Los Angeles, that will debut this December, mixing Rie and Rei’s adorable vocals with the guttural metal howls of Ladybeard.
The raucous concert was followed by a quick fashion show, featuring Clearstone’s kigurumi onesie costumes, and of course, LADYBABY wearing them. It was followed by a short thank you from the band, and a round of cheers from fans.
The combination of sweet and hard core was pure perfection, and fans can certainly look forward to more of the same on their upcoming new release this December.