In Jake and the Dynamo, we are gradually drawing closer to the first appearance of Magical Girl Metal Huntress Van Halensing, the vampire-slaying rock idol.
I’m not a particularly musical person, so to figure out how to make this work, I’m currently trying to give myself a crash course in J-metal girl bands. This is the kind of stuff I’m thinking of when I refer to “monster metal,” the magical girl-inspired rock popular in Urbanopolis.
There’s Babymetal, of course, a technically proficient band fronted by three girl idols. They’re starting to get big even here in the US, which is a major accomplishment for J-idols, who usually get a cold reception in America. They just spent April touring with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I understand that their shows are quite a spectacle, with fireworks, intricate dancing, and of course those gothic lolita outfits.
There are some hilarious reactions to Babymetal on the Internet, such as NME’s “Babymetal Confused the Hell Out of America Last Night.”
I’m a little confused by the chronology, but Babymetal apparently began in 2010 as a sub-group of the idol group. Sakura Gakuin. Their first song was “Doki Doki Morning,” which seems to me to have a brighter, more poppy feel than their more recent stuff.
The lead singer, Su-metal (Suzuka Nakamoto) was retired from the idol group Sakura Gakuin when she graduated from junior high in 2013, since the group has only elementary and middle school students as members. Babymetal was successful enough that it continued after leaving Sakura Gakuin.
The band members describe their style as “kawaii metal,” a blend of speed metal and J-pop. My initial reaction was negative, as I didn’t like the sound of those little girl voices over all the heavy metal riffs. But they’ve grown on me.
While watching Babymetal videos, I discovered Band-Maid, an all-girl metal band whose members dress as maids. They’re pretty good, and in my own humble opinion, Miku Kobato’s voice is better suited to this style of music than Su-metal’s.
According to an interview on TeamRock.com, Kobato is a long-time fan of metal who worked in a maid café before she recruited the other members of her band. In the same interview, when asked to contrast her music with Babymetal’s, Kobato promptly answers, “We play our own instruments.” Oh snap!
Though their styles are slightly different, both these bands use violent contrasts as their gimmicks. Babymetal’s is the contrast between metal and little girl J-pop. Band-Maid’s is the contrast between the maid costumes and the heavy music.