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Interview with Joshi Kosei - AbemaTV’s Dating Reality Shows Taking the World of Japanese Middle and High School Girls by Storm

Dating reality TV series aired on internet television AbemaTV have been increasingly popular among Japanese middle and high school girls. AbemaTV has focused on this category since its launch. Especially shows such as You can’t fool me Mr. Wolf series, I fell in love today, and Weekend Homestay have become highly popular and one in three middle and high school girls in Japan watch one of those shows.*1

This is backed by the Top TV Dramas/Programs Awards of 2018 announced by SHIBUYA109lab, the research institute of youth marketing. You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf ranked in first place and Weekend Homestay ranked in second place, leaving all the terrestrial programs behind.*2 I fell in love today dance from I fell in love today on the other hand is taking the short movie app TikTok by storm, while taking I fell in love today pose at purikura (print club) has become so fashionable that the program collaborated with a photo sticker machine manufacturer in June, 2018, to respond to this social phenomenon.

To learn more about the trend, FEATUReS interviewed three high school girls who like to watch dating reality shows to ask what made them start watching these shows and why they are so obsessed with watching them. 

Photo (from left): Ruka (18 years old), Minami (17 years old) and Riko (16 years old)
Photo (from left): Ruka (18 years old), Minami (17 years old) and Riko (16 years old)

Likable, relatable cast of the same generation

― What do you think first made you start watching dating reality shows on AbemaTV?

Ruka: I first became aware of You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf about two years ago when I was doing research on my favorite model who was on the show. I’ve watched all You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf series since then. 
I also liked the latest season of You can't fool me, Mr. Wolf. Winter 2018 which many of my favorite models are starring. It’s interesting to see what celebrities are like in real life.

You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf: A dating reality show features high school girls in search of true love going on dates until they fall in love. There is at least one “wolf who never falls in love” included in the boys and bothers their relationships.
You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf: A dating reality show features high school girls in search of true love going on dates until they fall in love. There is at least one “wolf who never falls in love” included in the boys and bothers their relationships.

Minami: I became aware because of the advert for I Fell in Love Today appeared on AbemaTV. 
Being a high school student myself, the reality show featuring high school girls interested me. I also wondered if they could, or could I if I was one of them, really fall in love over the period of two nights and three days. In fact, watching the show made me want to be go on the show and I ended up applying for a place on the show (lol).

I fell in love today: A dating reality show starring high school students who have never met each other trying to find true love over the period of two nights and three days
I fell in love today: A dating reality show starring high school students who have never met each other trying to find true love over the period of two nights and three days

Ruka: I started watching Weekend Homestay because I knew one of the cast in person in the show. That is probably why I watch the show, but also it makes me feel like I am watching my friends on a date.

Weekend Homestay: High school girls and boys who live far apart from each other going on a date in each other’s home town every weekend. Viewers witness students develop pure romantic feelings during the homestay weekend
Weekend Homestay: High school girls and boys who live far apart from each other going on a date in each other’s home town every weekend. Viewers witness students develop pure romantic feelings during the homestay weekend

Riko: I can relate to both I fell in love today and Weekend Homestay. I can’t ignore that all the boys on the shows are much better looking than those around me though (lol). 

Minami:   All the boys on Mr. Wolf series are good looking and cute. It’s like watching celebrities go on dates. 

Riko:    The scenery is really pretty and I often feel like going to the date locations featured in the show. It’s kind of watching “ideal dates”.

Minami:    I watch many shows featuring our generation. I find Popteen Cover Girl War and Page One Love interesting to watch.

Ruka:    I graduated high school this month and am going to college next month. I’m often disappointed with the lack of TV shows featuring college students. That is why I felt excited when Love Campus started airing. I also watched Having a crush like a romantic drama. Now, I am more interested in more mature, somewhat melodramatic relationships, rather than pure platonic ones. 
 

Watching various content at home, on the go and at school

― When and where do you often watch these shows?

Minami:    Mostly in my room or while travelling.

― Do you watch them live?

Riko:    I do when I can’t wait to see what happens next, but otherwise just watch them on demand (AbemaVideo*3). I watch whatever I want or whenever I want to, like before going to sleep.

Minami:    I mostly watch them on demand, too. Apart from AbemaTV, I watch Hulu, Netflix, YouTube and others. The content I watch varies, too, and I even like horror with zombies. Just like setting your alarm before going to sleep, I download what I want to watch tomorrow every night.

― Some says that young people today don’t watch TV. Do you still watch TV?


Ruka:    I watch quite a lot, but mostly while doing something else. I often turn on TV holding my smartphone in one hand.

Riko:    Among this season’s TV shows, I watched 3-nen A-gumi You Guys Are Hostages From Now.
 

Even boys watch dating reality shows

― Do you talk about AbemaTV’s dating reality shows with your friends at school?

Ruka: We do. This relates to the question about “where do you watch” but we watch these shows at school, connecting our desks together and chatting. 

Riko: We enjoy guessing who would couple up, saying things like “I really want those two to become a couple!”

Minami:    Yes, like “Who did you choose in the Mr. Wolf (eviction) vote?”*4 We want to find out who others have voted for because no one wants their favorite contestant to be evicted. Of course, the same can be said about the immunity vote.*5 As the votes spread widely across the contestants, I’m really interested in whom my friends and others in the whole country have voted for. I also read comments and replies on social media to make sure. 

― Do you visit social networking sites of the shows and cast very often?

Ruka:     Yes, I do. They also allow me to interact with other fans. I don’t post a comment very often but some of my friends do.

Riko:    I visit cast’s social media more often. Cast of Mr. Wolf series, in particular, include many models to see what they wear and check the latest fashion trends. Then, smartphones allow me to purchase what I like online.

- Data show that one in three Japanese middle and high school girls watch either  You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf, I fell in love today, or Weekend Homestay shows which are aired exclusively on AbemaTV. Do you get that impression?

Riko: Yes, I do. In fact, I feel like there are a lot more than one in three. Every group in the class is talking about the shows they watch. 

- Does that mean even boys watch those shows?

Minami: Yes, the whole class is talking about them including boys. They are also interested in guessing the next eviction.

Riko: I often hear boys saying things like “That girl (in the show) is pretty.”

Minami: Both boys and girls watch these shows so we feel like one in two rather than one in three.

(Everyone nods)
 

Thank you for joining the interview today!
Thank you for joining the interview today!

Dating reality shows are popular among users of the Abema Premium*6, a paid plan to allow users to watch missed episodes and popular content whenever and as often as they want. 
60% of the Abema Premium users are women while 70% are 34 years old or younger, demonstrating its popularity among young people.*7

AbemaTV is committed to creating attractive, entertaining shows.

*1    Calculated the proportion of female viewers aged 15-19 who watched either You can’t fool me, Mr. Wolf, I fell in love today, or Weekend Homestay between January and March 2018 to the female population of the same age group in Japan (2,910,000) published by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in March 2018.
*2    SHIBUYA109 lab. Trend Awards 2018 organized by SHIBUYA109 Entertainment
*3    AbemaTV’s on-demand service that allows users to enjoy what they want to watch whenever they want to
*4    Viewers vote for the one of the boys whom they think is the Mr. Wolf. The boy who has the most votes will be evicted
*5    A new rule introduced this season to allow the boy who has the most votes in the r. Wolf (eviction) vote to remain on the show until the last confession if he has gained more votes in the immunity vote 
*6    A paid plan charging ¥960/month
*7    As of December 2018
 

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