Music

New idol group The Margarines sing to pay off debts

by Kazuaki Nagata

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.