Around a week ago, the first physical product of the Cheerz app, Cheerz Book Vol 1: Birth went on sale, online on Amazon and in various convenience stores and bookstores across Japan. The attainment of this first major milestone in the app might perhaps be a good time for me to review this little new innovation in how us wota (short for Otaku), can affect the modelling and social media sides to our favorite idols.
What exactly is Cheerz? It is a relatively new social media application on the app stores that fuels itself on three trends that the 21st-century-wota already live and breathe currently –Instagram-stalking our eyecandies, voting and the barebones of passive mobile- and social- games. Come on, let’s attest the latter and admit our former victimization under the Mousehunt fad and the one-thousand-and-one distractors on FaceBook, pausing whatever we did once every fifteen minutes to alt-tab to FaceBook on our browsers just to sound the Hunter’s Horn.
Unless you are a self-declared Jurrasic equivalent of the social-media-era of the Net, you would have, to some extent, felt the prowess of Instagram to have grown in strength to be the new Twitter: microblogging more on visuals than text instead of the vice-versa predominant focus on short texts with media interspersed between. An increasing number of Japanese celebrities, especially females, are hopping onto the Insta-bandwagon, very much perhaps to boost their impression of intimacy and informality, more so for the oh-so-stalkable idol types, and much more than what can be achieved in their existing turfs on twitter and ameba blogs. Cheerz adds more to the outreach and the existing Like/Favourite system most social media systems run on, by fusing it with the ideas of rankings on music charts and voting in large idol groups like AKB48 and its sister groups.
After downloading and signing up, usage of the Cheerz is more or less identical to scrolling through our feeds of followed users on Instagram. When you open Cheerz on your smart device, a Feed of the photos uploaded by our registered idols presented to you in reverse-chronological order to scroll through.
When a pretty photo catches your fancy, you can give it a “Like”, which we call a Cheer in the Cheerz realm, and doing so brings you one step closer to your next level-up. What sets this apart from the same function on Facebook and Twitter is how a Cheer can be given to the same photo not just once, but multiple times by the same user.
Yup, it’s spammable – but that’s where the refills and Level system comes into play. Each press reduces the remaining number you can give from a maximum gauge, and once you are exhaust, you either wait for an automatic refill, or get them instantly via cash purchase in yen.
In spite of these limitations, each successful level-up refills your Cheer limit to its new maximum for that level, so with a bit of strategic timing, you can set a time to spam all your Cheers such that by the time you are completely drained (or come close to doing so), you hit a level-up, fully-recharged, and all ready to keep your Cheering engine going. Of course, as how it rolls in good-old RPG fashion, while the number of Cheers increases with each level, so does the Cheers-to-next-level requirement. The prescribed method thus fades away in efficiency as you climb up the rungs.
After spending time on the Feed, you can go to the Ranking page to see which photos and idols clinch top of the roost. Several rankings can be displayed – Daily, Monthly, Photos in Cheerz Books and so on. You may also go to My Page, to review which idols and which photos and idols you have Cheered for and purchase Cheer refills. Toggling between these pages, as well as the app’s Settings, is done conveniently through a horizontal navigation bar at the bottom of the screen.
But what else is biggie about voting besides showing which idols and photos are most well-received? To determine the limelight in the physical product of the Cheerz app: the Cheerz Book series.
The top five idols, led by Mai Kotone and ran-up by Shirai and Neu from Jyu Jyu, Hikari Takiguchi from drop and Saori Itayama from Luce Twinkle Wink☆ had their snapshots printed in the first volume and complemented by additional professional studio shoots of them taken by established photographers in the entertainment industry. The book also comes with tickets to win present drawings for autographed photos of the idols and polaroids. We doubt that this regular magazine will be the sole, end-all use of the votes, and foresee that this system can be incorporated into other kinds of promotion and publications for the idols registered with Cheerz.
It is fitting to sum up this game of sorts as a marriage between RPG-esque leveling marred with passive waits in freemium social games and the AKB48–senbatsu (election) mentality of fervent voting, a fad that pushes the hardcores to pour wheelbarrows of cash in exchange for more votes to put their oshimen (most supported member) into the center spot of their next PV.
Personally, I find this app interesting in its own right as a novel concoction of the above-explained addictive ingredients. However, I am merely a passive and casual fan of the idol genre, content with whatever they provide me to listen to but not fuelled by a desire to go further and influence their popularity or future performances. Yet, like the others having the same level of passion towards idol music, I would’ve kinda missed the voting aspect of the app, and stick to using it to view photos of the idols the way I scroll down my photostream on Instagram.
The passive-spam-Cheering as well as the anxious wait for refills (and perhaps in distraction from your daily activities) might be best reserved for the hardcore wota. The ones who would really die the chances of their idols appearing in print, in hopes that their gargantuan dump of votes gave them more publicity or provides them better impression as a pretty, photogenic girls.
The app, with its current userbase of idols, also would not appeal to those steer clear of indie idols. If you are a newcomer to idol music and play your ears safe by keeping them to the more mainstream sounds along the frequencies of the all-popular 48 groups and Hello! Project, I wager my coffee money that the artistes currently featured in Cheerz wouldn’t ring a bell:
Tsuki to Taiyou
Tokyo Cheer② Party
PIP (Platonics Idol Platform)
Flap Girls School
Yancha Gakuen Ongaku-bu
Ryuseigun Shojo (Shooting Star Girls)
Luce Twinkle Wink☆
So if you’re perhaps new or not to the idol genre and would prefer to stick staunchly to the mainstream sounds for now, the app might lack initial appeal to you. After all, what’s the fun in looking at random cute girls that I don’t even listen to?
Still, the opposite also holds true: all the more this makes Cheerz a useful app to get to know more idols, expand your playlist and develop a more unique taste in lesser-known idols beyond the mainstream wota-domo. After all, it wouldn’t hurt much to go look for some eye-sparks from girls you don’t know yet, and who knows, you might find a new idol to crush on through this app, and go gaga over the entire group after checking out their music!
Download Cheerz from their official website http://cheerz.cz/ . Available in Google Play and the iOS App Store.
Source: Tokyo Girls Update for initial reporting on the app and their translated list of idols featured in Cheerz