Harsh words from a strong supporter of letting love bloom between idols and anyone they want.

While not something that applies to each and every performer in the industry, it’s become pretty standard for Japanese idol singers to have a “no-romance” clause in their contracts. The logic behind the practice is that the biggest supporters of idol music, financially speaking, are people who feel a personal connection with the idol’s songs, and if they find out the idol actually has a lover in her life, those fans will stop thinking her songs of validating encouragement are about them, and thus stop buying albums, concert tickets, and merchandise.

So it was a pretty bold move when Nobosu Makai, the designated “leader” of four-member idol group ShiX, declared her love for the special someone in her life during an appearance on late-night Japanese variety program Ariyoshi Hanseikai.

▼ Nobosu Makai

But that wasn’t the only thing that had viewers and fans surprised. The person Makai has fallen in love with is none other than Mine Mineta, who’s not only also a woman, but also a member of ShiX.

▼ Mine Mineta

And for one final surprise, Rinku Tamaki, yet another member of ShiX, said that she herself is in love with Makai, although her romantic affections are apparently unrequited. Remaining member Ringo Amane doesn’t seem to be carrying a torch for any of her bandmates.

During the group’s appearance on the program, Makai told Mineta “My feelings have gone from ‘like’ to ‘love.’ Please be my girlfriend.” Mineta agreed, and the two have now become an open couple.

▼ ShiX performing their song “infection”

Among those who were enthralled by the turn of events was Rino Sashihara. Currently a member of idol unit HKT48, the 25-year-old Sashihara was previously a member of associated group AKB48, Japan’s premiere idol act, until she was discovered to have a boyfriend in 2012 and transferred to the less prestigious HKT48 as part of an individual rebranding strategy. In regards to Makai and Mineta openly dating, Sashihara commented:

“Seeing them so happy together, and also that there was a love triangle, it makes me think once again that no-romance rules for idols are shit.”

Technically, ShiX does have a no-dating policy for its members, but it appears to be focused on keeping them from becoming romantically involved with fans. As such, Makai and Mineta’s relationship apparently slides through the loophole smoothly, and so far there hasn’t been any major backlash from the group’s fanbase.

However, it’s probably a little early to be calling this a turning point in idol industry practices. A quick look at Makai’s on-stage makeup or the group’s concert video above shows that ShiX is marketed very differently from most idol groups, relying far less on the fantasy of demure maidens acting as fans’ personal cheerleaders. Still, it’s one more vote for the “It’s OK for idols to have their own love lives” side of the debate, and with Sashihara dabbling in acting as a producer for other idols as she reaches the upper ages of on-stage performers in the genre, maybe she’ll give the singers she’s in charge of similar freedom to love whoever they want.

Related: ShiX official website
Source: Yahoo! News Japan/Sports Hochi via Otakomu
Top image: ShiX official website