Evocative idol goodness

This month delivered a nice surprise from idol outfit Shiritsu Ebisu Chuugaku, where they demonstrated a softer approach with their song ‘Nanairo’ for popular YouTube channel The First Take.

The performance was also given an added appeal by the welcome return of Ayaka Yasumoto. In 2020, Yasumoto took a break from her Ebichu duties after being diagnosed with lymphoma – and this marked the first time she had performed with the group since October last year.

The idol group have had a tough time of it in recent years, particularly with the tragic passing of Rina Matsuno in 2017 (see J-Pop Go article previously). That year marked the release of their album Ebicracy (from where ‘Nanairo’ is taken), but the promotion of the new release must have been a hard period for the group. Yasumoto’s diagnosis can’t have been an easy thing for the group to come to terms with, although her lymphoma treatment appears to have been successful.

Ebichu originally formed in 2009 as a sister group to Momoiro Clover Z. The outfit has a middle school theme, with their name translating to “Ebisu Private Junior High School”. They released their debut single, the perky pop of ‘Karikeiyaku No Sinnderera’, back in 2012. They’ve since become a popular idol outfit, including celebrating their 10th Anniversary in 2019 (which included a special collaboration event with the music outlet Natalie).

Ebichu’s appearance on The First Take is an intriguing idea, given that the online outlet focusses on stripped-down performances from artists. The First Take concept revolves around the idea that an artist or group comes in and performs a song in front of a microphone, emphasising a more natural performance compared to the slickly produced recorded version. Ebichu’s appearance marks the first time that a female idol outfit has appeared on the show.

The end result for their performance was a sweet, evocative moment with a piano-led rendition of ‘Nanairo’. Yasumoto’s distinct appearance with short hair (a result of her successful medical treatment) made her stand out, but the vocal harmonies employed by the Ebichu members as a group demonstrated that idol groups don’t always have to rely on a polished production to sound great.