I like to think that this review of mine is one of the most unbiased since I never really knew about Kamichan or Marcus Herzig until now. In short, I’m not entirely familiar with all the drama and hating that conspired between him and the rest of fandom months after I started my own blog.
Anyway, here it goes…
“Memoirs of a Johnny’s Fanboy” is like Marcus Herzig (aka Kamichan) very own Bridget Jones’ Diary where he wrote about his adventures and misadventures from being a Johnny’s fanboy. What started-out as simple fascination over Ya-ya-yah, which resulted to creation of a blog, and became a source of information from what used-to-be far fetch information about Johnny’s. Kamichan doesn’t just translate articles per-se, he re-writes them in a manner that could either come off as humorous, being a jerk or bitchy, or being perverted. Hate him or love him, it can’t be denied that Kamichan had provided fangirls and fanboys a valuable source of information on different Johnny’s groups that were used to be elusive.
The first few chapters of Memoirs has been an easy read where the author told some childhood stories, which may or may not, have contributed to his personal attitude when he grew-up. It was nice to note the fact that for someone like Marcus, who finds solitude in being alone, has attracted lots of attention once he went online where he has formed some obscure friendships and throngs of haters.
His interest with Ya-ya-yah was particularly a surprising one. It was like “love at first sight” and I think it was an unusual reaction coming from a 34 y/o, male, and German. Personally, it was hard to get attracted with most JE groups, but they grow on you until you found yourself plunging into fandom. It was a slow process, but with Marcus, it was like in an instant.
While it was unusual for a man in his 30s to start fanboy-ing over a group of kids, it is certainly not impossible. It just so happen that he learned about Ya-ya-yah at the wrong time. His re-telling about his early days of fan obsession with Ya-ya-yah has been funny and exciting. More exciting was during his first trip to Japan to watch “Stand by Me” featuring Ya-ya-yah. It was like a universal dream of any Johnny’s fan to go to Japan, to watch their shows live, to see their idols in variety shows, billboards and CMs, to buy gazillions of shop photos, and just to experience how it is to be a fan in their own country. Marcus also wrote about the typical emotional rollercoaster ride that every fan must experience, from having to wait in lines, bidding for a concert ticket, getting good seats, and to finally having a chance to touch your idol.
His adventures from being a Ya-ya-yah fan together with his desire to put-off writer’s block after he got dismissed from his job became his source of inspiration to start a blog. Now, here comes all the drama. The next few chapters became sort-of full of bitterness, regrets, hating, and broken friendships. The overly shy fanboy, who couldn’t even muster the courage to shake Hikaru’s hand, has become a source of information by other Johnny’s fans and a source of hate, by all haters.
In the next few chapters, there are some things that I agree with Marcus and some things that I disagree with. First is about his age and gender. Since his username “Kamichan” sounds like that of a little girl and a lot of people assume that he is a girl to the point that Marcus got pressured over the topic of “coming-out” in public. Does knowing the blogger’s age and gender is really that important? Maybe I’m just a snob because aside from the bloggers name, I couldn’t really care less about other things. If I were reading Kamichan’s blog during those times, I will be reading his blog because I want to know more about Ya-ya-yah and Hey! Say! JUMP, and not because I’m interested to know more about the blogger/writer. Furthermore, despite the public’s interest with Kamichan’s blog and having tons of readers might made him feel responsible, it is still his blog, what he says and writes on his blog is his business.
Second are his thoughts about child pornography after he has written the fanfic, “Shudo”. Being 30+ and writing a story that involves a 17y/o and 14y/0 may indeed seem child pornography. Well, it is child pornography as far as I’m concern and it is not okay. While I do agree that kids are exposed to violence (anime, TV, and movies) at such a young age, in those violent scenarios, there is always the hero and the villain. And in those scenarios, the bad gets punished and good gets rewarded. In short, there is a moral of the story, while in a story that involves young boys love and writing about them engaging in a sexual act seems inappropriate. I’m not being a moralist pig or anything, but young love should be being in love not being lustful. Then there’s the argument about Sexy Boyz/Sexy Zone name being too, well, sexy. Though I agree with most that Kamichan have pointed-out regarding the group’s name, I also think that he should not have been too defensive about it when he’s not even the one who named the group.
Third, this child pornography issue might be the cause that he got accused of being a paedophile. Paedophile is such a strong word and not something that could be taken lightly. In fact, Marcus could have sued those who accused him of being one since it could be personally and socially damaging. It’s actually quite surprising when he said that paedophilia is okay as long as that person doesn’t act on it, which could have resulted as a crime. Paedophilia is already a psychological disorder, a state of mentally imbalance; therefore, it is something that should be treated before it gets worst. Nevertheless, I actually feel sorry for him when he has to go through those vendettas. It’s one of the things I don’t get about haters. If they hate that person so much, why go to all the trouble and launch an attack, if they could just act like that person doesn’t exist or so.
Fourth, a whole chapter about Johnny Kitagawa is a breath of fresh air. Seriously, I don’t know where he got those information’s about Kitagawa, but it is something new since I never really knew much about Kitagawa. Despite all the allegation and misconception about the Johnny’s founder, all fangirls and fanboys should be thankful that Kitagawa established Johnny’s or we might never know about Arashi, Kanjani8, KAT-TUN, SMAP, Hey!Say!JUMP, and so…
Fifth, his Memoirs open the doors to all who are ignorant about Johnny’s Jrs. Okay, so the stuff about juniors might not be surprising to those who have read his blog, but to me, it is. I’m not really into juniors stuff even though we have NHK on TV and I could watched Shounen Club or Premium every weekends, I just don’t, because I’m not that interested with juniors. I have this ignorant notion that Jrs are just bunch of kids, when in fact, the likes of Kis-My-Ft2 or Kisumai are already in their 20s before they debuted, then, there’s Question?, who might never have the chance to debut.
Sixth, I wished he has written more about Johnny’s-related (juniors and Seniors) and how he viewed them, or his personal experiences from which groups, instead of writing more about his personal blogging matters that have resulted to a sea of hate leading to the closing of his blog.
Lastly, despite everything else that have said about Kamichan, it is a fact that he is one of who pioneered in bringing Japanese Johnny’s news to all ones using the very accessible language – English. Though the closing of his blog might have seem as a sign of defeat to others, it is also a brave move for someone who have spent 6 long years blogging about what he loves. I can still remember this one blogger who stopped blogging after she found-out that her translations were used as sort-of book compilation and sold in some Southeast Asian countries. All her hard work and not a mention of her name as the source. She got pissed and stop blogging. Now that Kamichan has ceased all his activities, it’s sad to see one go who happened to be so dedicated with his blog work.
“When you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” I sincerely hope that Kamichan is doing well now, and I do recommend this book to new and emerging Johnny’s fan girl, particularly to fans of Ya-ya-yah, JUMPers, and Sexy Zone.