Most anime fans are familiar with the late Satoshi Kon’s directorial debut “Perfect Blue” (trailer linked here). The all-girl Jpop Idol group “CHAM” were an important part of this compelling, and mind-bending drama. Despite the initial popularity of CHAM, the group has now been relegated to the “Where are they now?” files of Pop Music History.
I LOVED their big hit single: “Ai no Tenshi”. The video below captures Mima, Rei and Yukiko at the time just before they would rocket to stardom. It is a fantastic peak inside the recording studio. The girls are not wearing their stage outfits here — but who cares – they look (and sound) AMAZING.
One of the greatest anime film songs ever IMHO.
Here is a brief snippet of how they appeared in the German (translation) version of the film. Sorry for the obscure video reference — original CHAM footage is very hard to find, and valuable these days.
They were an exciting Jpop trio to watch live. CHAM paved the way for other Idol groups. Without CHAM’s trailblazing, Jpop girl groups today would probably not be the same!
Classic CHAM moves. They did it first. They did it better!
The ladies also recorded an English language version of “Ai no Tenshi (Angel of Love)”. The song has been covered and performed in stage concerts by American singers Madonna and Tiffany. (No, Denny is NOT making that up!)
The lyrics translated into English, although seemingly cute and innocent, recap the very creepy story that is “Perfect Blue”
“Angel of Love” translation:
And now you come and see it all just for yourself
See the angel’s wings, but something else is there
And all those magic hearts are all for you again
And then you come and listen to the sweet little voice
Singing there for you and only just for you
She is protecting you right now…
And if sometimes you feel for your love
Send a little heart for her
And she’ll be there with you with her love
Waiting only for you!
And when you love her, love her she will be
A little angel, angel in your heart
You’ve got to push it, push it for her love
And then forever, ever she will be
A sweet angel of your heart to be there together
And now you need a little faith in me and yourself
When you make your way to change the destiny
If you could only see what I could do for you
And even when you feel you have a difficult time
Listen to my heart who sings to make you shine
When you start to fall in love …
Another amazing moment was captured on this YouTube video. After years out of the limelight, CHAM makes a sudden guest appearance at an Anime convention. Here, the cameraman only captures part of their show. I do not blame him however. My jaw would have dropped in shock: OMG — IT’S CHAM!!! … grab the camera!!! Pardon the quality, but can you imagine, being at an Anime Conference in Russia, when CHAM makes a surprise appearance after being gone for so long?
The group had its ups and downs over the years. Mima graduated from the group to purse an acting career. Although she was critically acclaimed, she never reached the commercial success and popularity of CHAM.
For a few years group member Mima tried to go solo as a singer, and made a number of convention appearances. Yet these never came close to matching the appeal of the three-member unit. The video is very low quality … still any CHAM footage is valuable. Please forward to time 1:35 to see Mima’s solo.
The group would often appear at conventions, but mainly to sign autographs as they were without a record contract for over a decade. The ladies appeared in various commercial ads, sometimes as solo models, and sometimes in pairs (Documented in this slideshow below.)
Many years later the group surfaced at this Lisbon, Portugal fundraiser in support of Pancreatic Cancer research. This performance may actually be a little difficult for dedicated fans to watch. The ladies are older, out of shape, and have a hard time performing their moves. Still, it is an interesting, and final note of CHAM history.
Although CHAM may have now faded into pop music history, they will be remembered as one of the most inspiring pioneers in the Idol genre.
CHAM is gone, however fans keep a Facebook page linked here.
Enjoy the memories. It took 12 years for the light of “Perfect Blue” and CHAM to reach my world.