What happens when a 40-year-old man goes to a fan event for anime boy bands? Something very personal

Learn both what Sutopuri means and what makes them unique all in one day!

“Please go to Harajuku.”

This was the message that our Japanese-language reporter received Takashi Harada He suddenly received a gift from his teenage niece. As a guy whose hobbies include eating obscenely large steaks and playing made-up sports like pull-your-pants-up-to-your-collarbone soccer, Takashi doesn’t spend a whole lot of time in Harajuku, the Tokyo neighborhood that’s the youth fashion capital of Japan. Harajuku is only a short train ride from SoraNews24 headquarters, in Shinjuku district. Takashi was happy to accommodate her request.

▼ Plus, as a veteran member of the SN24 team, Takashi knows that whenever you have an opportunity to get away from the office, where things like this could happen at any moment, you take it.

Takashi was right at the door to the Gymnasium. Sutopuri Summer Strawberry Culture Festival. Don’t know what Sutopuri is? Takashi did not either, and was in the line of people waiting for their turn at the venue 20 minutes earlier.

▼ Takashi

Let’s rewind just a little bit. Sutopuri, the official nickname of Sutopuri, is also used. Strawberry Prince, an idol group that crosses the line between anime characters and virtual YouTubers and an actual boy band. Takashi didn’t know any of this until he received a text message from his niece, asking him to pick-up limited-edition merchandise at the Sutopuri Culture Festival fan events. This prompted him to ask fellow SoraNews24 journalist Ikuna Kamezawa “Umm…do you know what Sutopuri is?” Ikuna, whose own niece is also a Sutopuri fan, explained that the group’s members are generally represented by their illustrated avatars, and their faces are only seen by fans lucky enough to attend their live concerts.

Armed with this information, Takashi made sure to double-check which character is his niece’s oshi, or favorite, so that he’d know which character-specific merch to buy. It turns out she’s a fan of Satomi, whose image colour is pink, while Ikuna’s niece’s heart belongs to blue boy Koron.

Ok, Takashi now knows what the event is and what he needs to do there. However, he still felt self-conscious being among a crowd of young women about his age.

Once you get inside, the first thing you will see is a series displaying member profiles. Sure enough, even in the live-concert photos, the members’ faces are covered by stamps of their illustrated versions. Takashi found out that the core members of the group also include Riinu (image color: red) He appears to have the ears, tail, and ears of a dog. Root (image color yellow), who’s Sutopuri neophyte Takashi’s personal favorite, thanks to his hard-working personality. Satomi was the real reason Takashi was there.

The “Culture Festival” part of the event’s name refers to the open house-style festivals held at Japanese high schools, and so Each character panel included a student day memory. Satomi’s was a bittersweet story of the time he found out the classmate he had a crush on had a boyfriend and spotted them walking to class together in the morning. Takashi felt sympathy for the story of teenage heartache. Satomi can take comfort in the fact that he has thousands to thousands of fans.

Other highlights included the following: Sutopuri concert stage costumes on display

…a group concert video-viewing zone…

…even more character artwork…

Photo areas, though the meaning behind the giant eyeglasses went completely over Takashi’s head.

Takashi enjoyed a snack at a nearby snack bar. There he cooled down with some shaved-ice (he chose the pink syrup flavor so that his niece could also enjoy it), and, ofcourse, he also got to take home some cookies. the gift shop, where he picked up souvenirs for both his niece and Ikuna’s.

Takashi returned to SoraNews24 headquarters and handed half the haul over to Ikuna. She immediately began taking pictures with her smartphone of the haul. Takashi reflected not just on what he’d seen at the event, but who he’d seen too.

The majority of the attendees had been women in their teens or early 20s, who’d shown up as part of a group of friends. He’d also spotted father/daughter pairs, though, and not of the bratty-kid-drags-grump-dad-around type either. The dads knew their stuff, and were actively engaging in conversations with their daughter about Sutopuri, having clearly done their homework on the members’ backgrounds. There were even a few father/son groupsIt was a great way for parents and children to communicate, even though the mom was more interested in some subjects than the son. However, communication is often difficult once a child has reached their teens.

Takashi left the conference with a deep appreciation Sutopuri’s power to bring people together. Sure, you can make the argument that it’s silly for superfans to get so attached to what are, for the most part, fictional characters. But just one minute after Ikuna sent the photo of the merch to her niece, she got a stamp thank-you reply…

…and that moment of shared joy between the two of them is as real as it gets.

Information about the event
Sutopuri Summer Strawberry Culture Festival / すとぷり 夏の苺文化祭
Venue: Yodobashi J6 Building / ヨドバシJ6 ビル
Address: Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 6-35-6
東京都渋谷区神宮前6-35-6
Open 10 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
This offer is valid until August 28
Admission 1,800 yen (US$13)
Website

Images ©SoraNews24
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