They’re a band of maids. Tom Smith wonders what they should call themselves.
For many, MCM London Comic Con is the event for all things video game, anime and cosplay related. It’s got the retailers and licensors all in one place, it has panels, trailers and exclusive news announced there first. It packs so many people in costume that by lunchtime you probably won’t even look twice if a family of Marios toddle by, followed by another family of Goombas.
One aspect the event has been lacking, though, is its emphasis on Japan. The merchandise is there, the DVDs and Blu-rays are there, but between the odd anime director, yaoi paddler or Pocky pusher, there’s still a lot of ground left uncovered for fans of Japanese pop culture.
That’s about to change as two of Japan’s hottest breakthrough musical acts have been booked for the event this 27th-29th May; internet sensation Amatsuki, whose covers of famous anime and vocaloid songs have earned him over half a million Twitter followers and 35 million hits on NicoNico Douga (Japan’s closest thing to a YouTube rival); and BAND-MAID, a group of five lasses that have turned heads with their skilled musicianship mixed with frilly maid uniforms.
BAND-MAID formed in 2013 when founder Miku Kobato was thinking of ways to put her work experience to good use. While her school buddies slaved away in retail or office jobs, Miku worked hard at making customers smile at one of Akihabara’s many maid cafes, a district of Tokyo now notorious for otaku culture. Part of the job description was to sing, dance and play games with patrons while also being as chirpy, cute and cheerful as possible. She pondered if there were a way to combine all of that with her other passion, rock music. BAND-MAID was born.
Japan has seen more than its fair share of girl groups come and go who can sing, dance and wear fun outfits – BABYMETAL just played Wembley doing exactly that. BAND-MAID offer something a bit different by bringing that aspect of Japan’s idol culture and combining it with a set of ladies that are actually playing their own instruments. In BAND-MAID’s case, the fresh approach has already made them a viral hit, with their first two music videos Thrill and REAL EXISTANCE almost passing four million views while still being an independent band. They were also voted #2 Breakout Artist of 2015 in NHK World’s J-MELO, the world’s only English language TV show for Japanese music, narrowly missing out on the top spot to fellow MCM-buddy Amatsuki.
BAND-MAID will perform on all three days of MCM London Comic Con on the outdoor Festival Fringe stage. They will also conduct panels and Q&A session indoors, and sign and sell merchandise from the JPU Records booth throughout the event, located in the PopAsia section of the North Hall. Don’t miss them!