Megumi Wata didn't want to be a typical idol. "I see it as twinkly and fuwa fuwa (soft), very pastel. My idol of idols is someone like Seiko Matsuda, who is so different than groups today," she says at a cafe in Ikebukuro, a neighborhood she prefers to the usual idol haunts of Harajuku and Akihabara.

Luckily for her, she met two fellow artists sharing her view.

"Nariaki Obukuro, the owner of our label (Tokyo Recordings), was friends with a guy running a company in charge of making idol groups," says Wata's producer and composer Shinta Sakamoto, who is sitting one seat over. "Wata was in that agency, but she didn't want to be a traditional idol."