New idol group The Margarines sing to pay off debts


Staff Writer

Japan’s entertainment industry has become so filled with idol groups that some call this the age of the “idol war.”

Finding commercial success amid this fierce competition can be tough, but an idol group that debuted last week is making no secret about its true intentions.

The members of the group, called The Margarines, are out for money, pure and simple. The gimmick is that they’re pursuing the idol dream in order to pay off their debts.

The nine members, ranging in age from 19 to 30, owe a total of around ¥127 million.

They had different reasons for running up their debts, such as taking out student loans, buying products from fraudulent business operators or simply just spending too much on leisure activities.

Mami Nishida, 30, is the deepest in hock, owing about ¥100 million because her family business, running a factory, went under. Nishida said she’d like to think that “tough times bring opportunity.”

“When I will look back (on my life someday), I want to be able to say that this opportunity was a treasure,” she said at a news conference Wednesday in which the nine members were officially introduced.

The group also has one non-Japanese member, Marie Christine Krause, 22, of Germany who is about ¥2.2 million in the red for education expenses.

The concept for The Margarines was announced in July and auditions were held to select the members.

The idol group is overseen by Maccoi Saito, who has directed a number of popular TV programs and produced the now-disbanded idol group Ebisu Muscats, which featured porn stars.

“Many people give up their dream because of the debts, but that is such a shame! What is wrong with idols having debts?” Saito said in a statement read during a news conference in July.

The Margarines will release their first CD, “Goodbye Shakkin Tengoku” (“Goodbye Debt Heaven),” on Dec. 17. They will also stage a live event that month.

While members of some idol groups like AKB48 are not allowed to date, The Margarines don’t have to abide by any similar regulations.

  • Merchant Mmo

    I guess its a very creative way to work off that debt….

  • blondein_tokyo

    Exploitation at it’s finest. Good job, Japan.

  • Bodewell

    You’d think this kind of thing was getting old now. I guess they’ve got to milk the formula for all it’s worth…

  • Ahojanen

    Good luck for them. Among them is one girl (on huge debt) who I think would better file for bankruptcy :)

    “Become an idol to pay up” is not at all innovative but old school exploitation (?) of young aspiration. This group is only the revelation of such an open secret.

  • matty

    Better than being a bank robber…

  • Peou Richard Kovit


  • Riley Lynch

    It seems kind of odd to me that people are calling this exploitation. It’s a business transaction, and it benefits both sides (assuming that the members will make enough money to pay off debts). If I were over a million dollars in debt and somebody offered me a job that would make a lot of money, I would be pretty happy. Also, they don’t have the dating restrictions that other groups have, so at least on the surface it looks like they have even more freedom than other idol groups have. Unless they’re being forced to do something they don’t want to do, it’s not exploitation.

  • Michieie

    I imagined the German girl would be there due to student loans.

    Oh well, I guess the only thing to do is to wish them luck.

  • J.P. Bunny

    Seems like rather a good way for them to pay off their debts, especially without all the oppressive rules the other idol groups have.

  • Abel_Wilson

    I’m just thinking how this came together.
    “Lets see, we have 10 girls here. One of them is a Gaijin, hmmm.
    How are we gonna get out money back?”

    *long dramatic pause when suddenly K-On starts playing on a television screen*


  • 谷口賢也

    There’s nothing inherently wrong with hiring debtors as long as they don’t use it to mistreat or underpay them. They definitely will, obiouvly, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily worse than what other d-levels idols are going through.
    My problem with this is the appeal to sentiment; are we really okay with singers being marketed on pity sales? This is the musical equivalent of one of those sad pictures on Facebook trying to guilt you into hitting ‘Like!’