Interview with Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker

‘Maximum Overdrive’ is no understatement for the Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker performances. Their hectic latest work Totes Adorbs <3 Hurricane premieres at IFFR.

Choreographer Toko Nikaido (1986) became obsessed with Otaku fan culture, the Japanese obsession with pop idols, mostly from manga and anime. Nikaido was obsessed with people with an obsession, so to say. What is – unjustly – labelled geek culture or nerdism in the West, is a world on its own and a million-dollar culture in Japan.

The performances of Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker are often labeled ‘hysterical’. What do you want the audience to take away from your shows?
“You either hate us or love us. In Totes Adorbs <3 Hurricane, we elevate Otaku culture to art, in a thirty-minute show that is a whirlwind of disposable information – a reflection of our consumerist society today. It is so fast that you cannot grasp what is going on anymore. As a result, people in the audience almost have no choice but to come closer to each other.”

“I want to make something that can change the life of the audience a bit. As if you can hear the sound of life your life changing in front of you. The hysteria, as you call it, makes me feel that I am alive. At the same time, it is easy to just say all this – that is why I want to act on it, on stage. Otherwise I get bored. The feeling at the end of the show, when I’ve given all I got, is my way to feel alive.”

  • Photo: Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker

How do you make sure you don’t lose the attention of your audience in this rapid fire of pop culture?
“We believe that without an audience, we as performers do not exist. We need each other. So, as performers, we need to take care of our audience. We need to make them happy and we need them to be moved. In Japan, we have the tradition of Omotenashi – a unique tradition of hospitality, about the way guests are treated. For us it comes naturally to treat our audience like our guests.”

“From our perspective as performers, art does not happen on the stage, but in the seat of the viewer. That is where joy and emotions arise. I hope that the audience feels something on the way home. 'Wow, it's cold here', or 'Hey, there’s still confetti on my clothes'. Or maybe they sense the silence, as their was none during the show.”

One of the inspirations for the new show is ‘Moe’ culture. What does it mean?
“Our inspiration comes from us being the children of the so called ‘Moe’ generation. The term “Moe” was coined in the 1990s, and evolved to a slang word that appears in various Japanese subcultures, like anime, manga, video games. As slang, ‘Moe’ describes a feeling of strong affection. It is more than simply ‘liking’ something, a deeper and more intense form of adoration. A spontaneous and intense emotion towards something cute, huggable and pure. It is often ascribed to girls, even very young girls, but it is not necessarily a romantic emotion.”

“Anyways, us being strongly influenced by ‘Moe’ has led to this over-the-top piece. An ultra-fast roller coaster ride of excessive excitement. A thrilling, loud, incoherent chaotic mess giving you no time to breath or blink – with an addictive ‘Moe Moe’ medley where you have to clap your hands, make crazy noises and shout with me. You are in a state of euphoria from start to finish. That is really different from our previous shows.”

Hopefully Totes Adorbs <3 Hurricane will change your life; at least we do everything we can for that to happen.” – Miss Revolutionary Idol Berserker

How important are these references to Moe culture and Otaku? How do you make sure your audience can read them? Is that even necessary?
“We use music that can appeal to everyone, from Japanese Otaku fans to an audience totally unfamiliar with the phenomenon. Our show is accessible to all. It meets the world standard for entertainment, perhaps even the cosmic standard, hahaha.”

“We find it important to show our work in Europe, but we do not have the ambition to compete with existing forms of theatre and entertainment. Fortunately, people do not expect that from us either. We do the things we are good at, being the ‘weirdos’ from Tokyo that we are. Theatre is entertainment that is consumed at the moment when everyone is in the theatre. When the curtain closes, it’s all gone. That is exactly why we think you should come see us. Hopefully Totes Adorbs <3 Hurricane will change your life; at least we do everything we can for that to happen. So please come see us!”

“We intend to break the wall between performers and the audience. We play fifty different songs, all of which evoke a world of their own. On stage, performers dance their choreography in different formations. Everything is happening simultaneously. We don’t care about boundaries like gender, culture, age or disability. We speak our own hurricane language – to try and understand it is pointless. Our show is a tornado, it’s over before you have the chance to realise what’s happening.”

Photo in header: Text: Anne van der Wetering | Translation: Kai Yokojima.