It would probably be an understatement to say that Japanese idol and pop groups attract some very passionate fans. Many dedicated fans travel and follow their favorite regional or local idol groups on tour, but some go the extra step and participate in bonus services provided by the idol group's management, some of which include paying large fees for three minute phone calls, or collecting raffle tickets (which necessitates buying multiple copies of the same CD) to win a chance at shaking the hands of their favorite group members. Fortunately, this month's Budokan Idol Expo 2017 provided an opportunity for fans to meet up and interact with their favorite idols.

Held at the venue of Tokyo's renowned Nippon Budokan, the event hosted 64 different idol groups. As idol units tend not to stray too far away from color coded and gaudy outfits, it might be hard for even the most enthusiastic idol fan to pick out their favorite group from afar. Unless, of course, you are a fan of CY8ER, an idol unit from Nagoya who decided to come to their fan's hug event wearing haphazard hazmat gear, gloves, and gas masks.

You've probably assumed that the point here is to keep CY8ER's members unsullied from the dirty and sweaty hands of their otaku groupies, which has definitely been the initial reaction on the internet. Of course, that would be a rather cruel message to send to your fans, but not necessarily an unwelcome one. The protective suits seem to tie into the very specific rules of the hug event--which dictate that after paying 100 yen (2000 yen if you want a signed picture thrown in) for a hug, fans must face away from the idols and wait to be hugged from behind, without actually touching the idols themselves! If that sounds odd to you, you can observe the process in photos and the video below.

The suits and masks appear to be primarily a publicity stunt (the group members have been striking cutesy poses in them on their own Twitter), and something to give CY8ER a standout headline among the other 64 groups assembled. However, it's not a bad incidental way of gaining some protection (along with the comically strict rules) from any fan who may decide to act up. From an armchair psychology point, it also taps into the idea of some more passionate otaku almost deifying their favorite idols, and not believing they are on a level capable of touching them. The most innocent interpretation, of course, is that it's just a fun fan event for idols and their fans to have fun, and this was a silly way to put a spin on it.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.