Tokyo Idols

With this fascinating and troubling documentary, Kyoko Miyake investigates the Japanese phenomenon of very young female pop singers, known as idols, who cater to a passionate fan base of grown men. Following singer Rio from age 19 to 21, and interviewing several fans, Miyake exposes a cultural paradigm in which men so value purity that they seek out girls instead of women, and reject real relationships to worship figures who will never challenge, hurt, or reject them. Some of the men are lecherous and vaguely pedophilic (the allure of a ten-year-old idol, one explains, is that she’s “still developing”), but others are attracted to the brotherhood of idol culture. These men identify as outsiders, and in scrutinizing rather than reviling them, Miyake humanizes them as well as the women they fetishize. In Japanese with subtitles.