Don’t call it a comeback. They’ve been here for years, dispensing candy and unsolicited advice.

It was back in 2012 when a plucky crew of upper-middle-aged women formed the idol unit Obachaaan. Dressed in their stereotypical leopard-print garb, they burst onto the music scene with their debut single “Obachaaan Theme,” in which the mostly rapped lyrics really sum up what it’s like being an Osaka obachan (older woman).

“Here comes Obachan with the too much powerful smile.
The face covered by monster-like makeups.
Always carrying candies, they give everybody around.
We talk to you no matter whether or not you want to do so.
Our husbands don’t know we have secret pocket money at the closet.
You guys should think more simple like us!”
[Official Obachaaan paraphrased translation of second verse]

The song was a hit, and its video has received nearly a million and a half views on YouTube to date. It also spawned several follow-up tracks spanning different genres such as “Obareggae” and club track “OBAPA!”

Last year, they released their first single completely in English, “Oba Funk Osaka” to greet visitors during the G20 summit that was held in Osaka. With almost a half a million views in such a short time, it is easily their most popular video ever. I don’t want to say BTS saw this amazing success and copied Obachaaan’s idea…but just consider the timing and draw your own conclusions.

▼ The “Oba Funk Osaka” video also features the famous Tomioka High School Dance Club

Almost a decade into their musical career and with the average age of all members reaching 66, Obachaaan is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, just this month they volunteered to be hinoyojin in the Osaka area.

Those who live in Japan are probably familiar with hinoyojin as the groups of people who walk around neighborhoods in the evening clapping wooden blocks together. The purpose is to remind residents about potential sources of fires such as lit cigarettes or stoves that have been left on.

The whole custom has a very quaint and unintrusive charm to it. However, Obachaaan doesn’t know the meaning of “quaint” and “unintrusive” and instead go knocking on each person’s door, telling them to keep an eye on their gas and smokes to their face. Of course, to help grease the wheels a bit, they also give out hard candies.

It’s a very important job too, as the Osaka fire department said that 70 percent of fire fatalities in the past five years involved people over the age of 65. This makes Obachaaan the ideal idol group to reach out to this especially vulnerable sector of society and raise awareness, along with blood sugar levels.

It’s just the most recent example of how Obachaaan continues to electrify the music scene while also pitching in to help the community. So, if you’re in Osaka and happen to spot a member of this premier idol unit, don’t hesitate to say hello.

Because if you do hesitate, they’ll be asking about your income and why you’re not married while placing a snack in your palm, all before you can even utter a single word.

Source: NHK, YouTube/Obachaaan
Top image: YouTube/Obachaaan
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