NMB48 Wakana Abe: “Idols and SNS are inseparable”
Wakana Abe, 21, of NMB48, makes her debut as a novelist with "Idol Shikkaku. She takes a sharp look at "SNS," which holds the key to the story, from the perspective of an active idol.
I felt that SNS can really be “both poison and medicine. It is scary in some ways, but there are definitely feelings of fans that can only be known through SNS. As an idol, I would be lost without SNS.
Wakana Abe, 21, of NMB48, says so. She is both an active idol and a university student, and has just published “Idol Shikkaku” (KADOKAWA). She is in the limelight for making her debut as a novelist.
The theme of the work is “forbidden love between an idol and a fan who met through SNS. We asked Abe, who makes full use of SNS in her idol activities, about the “reality of SNS and idols,” which is also depicted in her novel.
Rising to the top with “posts that will lead to the next thing
The story of “Idol Shikkaku” is about Minoka Onodera (17), the center of an underground idol group, who meets and falls in love with Keita Yoshino (20), a fan of hers, through SNS.
Not only is SNS at the core of the story, but it is also an integral part of the story, as each chapter begins with a tweet from the two, and the pages are designed to resemble a Twitter screen.
I have grown up in an environment where Twitter has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. Even in my current idol activities, SNS is the best tool for communicating with fans. So when I decided to write this novel, I decided from the beginning that I wanted to focus on SNS if I wanted to pursue the reality of idols today.
At NMB48, when all the members decided to focus on SNS a few years ago, we held a “SNS workshop. Managers and senior members acted as instructors and taught us what kind of posts we should make to show ourselves off well. I was taught to include information about my hobbies and special skills, and to post something that would “lead to the next thing” that would help me get a job opportunity.
My SNS mentor was (NMB48 OG) Akari Yoshida. Even though she has graduated from the group, she still gives me advice. When I asked her how I should promote my novel, she said, “First of all, you have to show that you are a book lover. Why don’t you post books that you enjoyed reading? He said, “Why don’t you post books that you enjoyed reading? So now I’ve been posting on TikTok about books I recommend.
Abe says that she has been trying to “post something that will lead to the next one” while practicing the advice of Yoshida, a senior staff member who has nearly 20 times more followers than Abe on Twitter alone. She has posted about her hobbies such as reading, rakugo (comic storytelling), economics she is studying at university, and investments, and many of her posts have actually led to jobs.
My posts on social networking sites have led to many economic interviews, magazine columns, and TV appearances on rakugo shows,” he says. I am truly grateful for that. If it weren’t for SNS, I would have been a featureless idol (……), and I think I would have been buried even further within NMB48.”
For idols, social networking sites contribute greatly to interaction with their fans.
When I post about books I have read, I get responses from fans who say, “I like that book too,” or “Wakapon recommended it, so I read it,” or at handshake events. It makes me very happy. Perhaps it is because I have been communicating in this way, but I sometimes feel that my fans have similar sensibilities to me. It’s as if people with similar sensitivities get together. Now it’s an online meeting at COVID-19 crisis, but before COVID-19, when I met my fans at real events, I felt that many of them were serious, taciturn, and liked to think deeply.
It is interesting and instructive that social networking sites show reactions instantly in numbers. For example, when I posted about reading books for the first time, I could tell by the number of retweets and replies that the tweet was well received, so I continued to do so. When I take a few selfies and I don’t know which one I like best, I post them and the number of “likes” makes a big difference. I can look at myself objectively in numbers, so social networking is a valuable tool.”
If you get praised 100 times and beaten once, you will get …… “Ego-Search”: Light and Darkness
In the story of “Idol Shikkaku,” the main character Minohana, in order to keep up with the voices of her fans, does Ego-searches (a.k.a. Ego-Sa) without fail after each special event or live performance.
As Abe’s fans know, she, like Jizuka, is said to Ego-search at a very high frequency. She laughs, “Idols do more Ego-searching than people think.
She laughs, “At times, I would open my Twitter account every time I touched my phone to search my ego. There weren’t that many posts about me (laughs). (Laughs.) The moment I return to the dressing room after a live TV broadcast, all the members are absorbed in Ego-Searching.
What makes me happy is when I find a post after a singing show that says, “Who is this girl? It’s Wakana Abe! after a singing show. I get really excited. But on ……, even if you get praised a hundred times, the damage of seeing a post where you are slammed once will stay with you forever. For example, when I made a comment that was a dig at a member, I was slammed by a fan of that member. I am very concerned about whether my comments were taken that way.
I have to know how I am perceived by the people who watch me in order to grow. That’s why I can’t stop ego-searching, even though it scares me. I learn a lot from the comments of people who are new to me. If I think, ‘This is someone I don’t usually see,’ I go to their profile page (laughs).
Now that he has finished writing “Idol Shikkaku,” Abe says he will be taking social networking even more seriously in the future.
When I post on SNS or look at it, it is part of my job, so my so-called “idol switch” is on. I realized that until now I had been posting as just an individual, Wakana Abe, and that the boundary between me and the idol you are looking for had become blurred.
I realized this as a result of carefully thinking through what kind of postings the personality of Jitsuka would make during the writing process. In turn, it made me think a lot about the way I post, and I came to the conclusion that branding on social networking sites is extremely important.
Because I like to express my thoughts in writing, I have come to think that I need to think more carefully about how my words will be perceived by the viewers and post them properly as an idol.
Prepared to depict “love,” a taboo subject for idols
An active idol, Yasuko is in a position where romance is out of the question. Abe, who is an active idol and has never been involved in a romantic relationship, wrote a novel on the scandalous theme of “love between an idol and an otaku. She describes her struggle in setting the theme.
I was very hesitant about whether I could really write about this theme. I was afraid that fans would read about Minuka falling in love with me, and I felt somewhat sorry about it. Even the members of NMB48 were concerned about the theme.
Even so, I chose this theme because I wanted to write a work that only I, an active idol, could write. I thought I could depict something that has no connection in the real world, such as love between idols and romance, because it is a work of fiction. I received comments from fans that they would never be able to know Wakapon’s views on love, so I was happy to learn about them in the novel, which made me feel that I had made the right choice in choosing this theme. Because it is such a delicate theme, I was determined to carefully depict it all the way through to the end.
Time to be an idol is short
Abe, who is both an idol and a university student, is now 21 years old. In the novel, Minohana is troubled about her career path, which is in line with her own current situation.
I don’t think I can stay an idol forever. When I entered NMB48 in my first year of high school, I thought, ‘I’ll graduate when I turn 20; I have four years left. But four years flew by as I was absorbed in my idol activities, and before I knew it, I had passed that age. I still haven’t decided exactly what I am going to do in the future, and every day I feel really lost. I am sure that people who are regular students also have endless worries, but we who are idols are also seriously concerned about our career paths.
But I am happy to see more and more unexpected options come up, like the fact that my dream of writing a novel, which I had never even considered a year ago, has now come true. I want to be an idol who can expand my own possibilities, just as I can with social networking. When I find what I really want to do in the future, that will be the time when I graduate from being an idol.
Born in Osaka, 21 years old, she joined NMB48 in 2018 as a 3rd term draft student and is currently the vice captain of Team M. She is currently a university student. She is currently a university student.
In her childhood, she went to the library every day and read about 100 novels in a year. His favorite book when he was in elementary school was Michael Ende’s “Hateni Monogatari” (“A Tale of the Unfinished”).
She is actively expanding her activities in various genres such as novels, rakugo (comic storytelling), and investment, and is active as an “idol who can have fun in 100 different ways.
For the latest information, please visit the official Twitter ( @_wakapon_ ) and Instagram ( @_wakapon_ ).
Photographed by： Takahiro Sezu