American pop artist Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” For some individuals in Japan, their quest to become a “quasi-celebrity,” or aidoru (“idol”), takes different routes, whether through viral videos, releasing indie music or gaining popularity through social networks. For Akari Aoki, she had to become “undead”, and to some extent, a failure, to achieve her dream.
The 29-year-old has become a zombie character, possibly inspired by the popularity of US TV show The Walking Dead, and watching various horror movies. When she started dressing up to become one of the undead and walking around the streets of Tokyo as a zombie, she has managed to get the attention of a popular Sunday night show Ariyoshi Hanseikai with her interesting career trajectory. Ken Miyahara, a director of the show, said they discovered her on the Internet by accident and thought she looked strange but interesting. “One way of our casting is to feature somebody new who could be a star,” he said. Since then, she has gotten at least three zombie jobs every month, from small parts in TV shows, movies, events and photo shoots.
Her quasi-fame didn’t come overnight, and she’s not ashamed to share her story of failures beforehand. In fact, she has even written and published a book about it, entitled “My Diary of How I Failed to Become An Idol,” a diary-type of work documenting her disappointments and failures before she got her 15 minutes of fame. This is actually her second book, but her first one back in 2003, a collection of photos of her wearing an apron, was a major fail, as the stores returned more than half of their copies (to the shock of no one, probably). She even recorded a CD and a DVD of herself touring different Buddha statues, but both were also market flops. She can laugh about it now, as her second book has reached No. 3 on the Amazon Japan list of books sold by TV stars. But even with her fame, she’s still not as rich as you would think, since those small parts don’t pay much at all. But she doesn’t seem to care, as she believes her “zombie therapy” is her life’s calling. “I call it ghoul Japan, as opposed to cool Japan,” Aoki shares.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]