Seen a bunch of posts recently about how “Off the Hook” have replaced the “Squid Sisters”...
… and whilst people don’t seem to dislike Off the Hook (actually the opposite) there’s some disappointment that Callie and Marie aren’t the stars of the show anymore.
While it’s a shame to see them step aside into a new role in the Splatoon franchise, I want to suggest to everyone that it’s important for their characters to do this.
Callie and Marie (just like Pearl and Marina) are Idols. The Squid Sisters are, effectively, an analogue of a J-Pop idol group. This shouldn’t come as news to anyone.
J-Pop Idols, culturally, have a few well-known characteristics. They have closely guarded personal lives that are kept secret from their fans (which Callie and Marie are shown to have in the story mode of Splatoon), they have a range of songs usually with matching dance routines, but most importantly of all, above all else…
… J-Pop idols tend to have short-lived periods of success.
True, there are a few idols and idol groups which have gone on to have careers for many years, perhaps decades, (SMAP are an example) either just through renewing their appeal every few years or moving into different areas like acting or presenting TV shows, but the vast, vast majority of idols see their careers dwindle very quickly. These people might find employment in music production or mentoring younger idols, but plenty simply go back to “normal” lives.
J-Pop (particularly in the 90s/00s) was infamous for how quickly it could consume a young star; picking them up, putting them on the top shelf, touring the TV talk shows, releasing singles, and then being practically gone as quickly as they became famous.
And this was difficult for those people! It could leave them emotionally drained and somewhat adrift, especially if their success came young. We’ve all seen one-hit stars have meltdowns in the west when their career starts to fizzle out, but at its height, the J-Pop idol fixation was like this played in fast-forward.
Hell, these themes were a big part of the tremendous anime horror movie Perfect Blue.
So yeah, it’s a shame Callie and Marie have stepped aside a touch, but in a way, it’s a good thing. Seeing them having to deal with their life post-Squid Sisters, and struggling with that, just furthers their characterisation of being a J-Pop idol group. The party’s over and now we get to find out how they deal with that.
It’s actually pretty brave of Nintendo, because I think the success of the Squid Sisters really caught them by surprise. It takes creative conviction to throw the main characters of a franchise into an unexpected, bad situation, so I think it’s going to be great to see what happens.