Otaku Owls Live at MCM Expo

“I like idols and stuff,” was the introduction of Otaku Owls member, Abbie-kins.

Taking the Totally Cosplay stage at this year’s MCM Expo in London, the Otaku Owls – a tenacious group of YouTube stars each from different parts of the UK – delivered a rich performance with the aesthetic romance of traditional idol stages. Led by centre, Mico, the group have been slowly building up a reputation online, and off for their hard work and numerous talents. Supported by fellow members, KrissieCatherine and team ace, Abbie-kins, they are a group diverse in style but united in their passion for pop culture.

The set performed on Saturday morning proved to be a testament to this, their hard work delivering a stage focused on both J-pop and K-pop covers, each song designed to highlight their varied strengths.

Beginning as a complete group, the set moved swiftly through introductions into individual sub-units, each song highlighted by the interplay of the members, especially from Catherine who came across very much as the uniting element – her playful personality evident in the manner she related to impromptu responses from Mico and her fellow team members. Imagine her as AKB48 Team B’s Yuki Kashiwagi.

Yet if Catherine is Kashiwagi, then Krissie, with strong voice and slight hesitation is definitely HKT48‘s Rino Sashihara. In fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that Krissie would be a perfect match for Sashihara’s Soredemo Suki da yo

With Mico making a very professional centre, her deftness of charm is easily balanced by the happy-go-lucky youthfulness of Abbie-kins, the pair showcasing great co-ordination and presence during their cover of Morning Musume‘s 2007 single, Mikan. It would be easy to dismiss Abbie-kins because of this apparent youthfulness – yet it would also be a mistake. Beneath the cute image she presents to the audience, there is both a strong personality and a sense of determination in her movements. Like Momoko Tsugunaga of Berryz Koubou, there is both method and skill beneath the affectations of cuteness.

Following Mikan and a brief costume change, members Krissie and Catherine re-took the stage for a K-pop medley, highlighting their skills as dancers and proving themselves as versatile in more than one genre. As with the image presented by Abbie-kins, there was the sense that beneath their appearance as teenage idols, there was a sense of determination that leant itself to more than the short set fully revealed. If Mico and Abbie-kins are already in their stride, it seems that Krissie and Catherine are not very behind – their talents overlapping yet divergent.

Promoting brief audience participation from a gentleman dressed in the guise of Pikachu, the group reunited for a brief rendition of PSY‘s overwhelmingly popular Gangnam Style, yet for this writer the successive rendition of AKB48‘s 17th single, Heavy Rotation was one of the set’s highlights. With Abbie-kins firmly and confidently in the role of Yuko Oshima, the group portrayed a sense of energy, their unification as both a team of dancers and close friends filling the stage.

For this brief time, between London’s MCM Expo and that distant stage of tears and dreams in Akihabara, there seemed to be the faintest moment in which a singularity was induced.

Going from strength to strength, the group then moved into an Abbie-kins and Mico cover of Morning Musume’s recent single, Wakuteka Take a Chance – a perfect moment in which the relationship of ace and centre was once again highlighted by their stage performance.

Wrapping up the set with a further collection of covers defining their agenda, the Otaku Owls appear to be going from strength to strength with every stage they take.

What the road ahead may bring these four girls is as yet uncertain, however it is more than evident that, as friends, they are having a great time in surging ahead towards their destination.

If I had to pick any act to label as ‘one to watch’ then the Otaku Owls would certainly have won that accolade with their performance.

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