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Sorb3t is an indie J-pop idol group based in Los Angeles, California that has attracted attention for using styles typical of Japanese idol groups, including using Japanese words and putting on a Japanese accent, when two of the idols are white and all are American. As the group attracted attention, they proved divisive online, as some commenters mocked the group for appropriating Japanese idol aesthetics, while others defended them, noting that non-Japanese J-pop idols, dubbed "Kaigai" idols, are accepted in the J-pop idol scene.
On January 25th, 2023, Sorb3t posted their first TikTok introducing themselves, set to NewJeans' song 'OMG'. The clip gained over 94,000 views in four months (shown below). The idols' names are Alice, Berry and Ashe.
@sorb3t.official Hello everyone! We are Sorb3t, a new indie idol group based in California! Follow to see more of our pre-debut journey!💖💚❤️ #CapCut #newjeans_omg #omgchallenge #overseasidol #indieidol #idolgroup ♬ OMG – NewJeans
Over the following months, their videos steadily rose in views, and on May 23rd, they posted a video of their first live performance, outside of a Tsunscoops ice cream shop, gaining over 689,000 views in two days (shown below, left). On May 24th, they posted their first TikTok to crack a million views, in which they instructed fans on their call-and-response chants. The video gained over 4.3 million views in one day (shown below, right).
@sorb3t.official Our debut! Thank you to everyone who came out to support us❤️💚 #tsunscoops #overseasidol #sorb3t #indieidols #overseasidolgroup #idolgroup #debutperformance #animesongcover ♬ Instrumen Cinematic (Acoustic) – UDDJ
@sorb3t.official Learn our call and responses and then do them with us live at Anime Riverside this Saturday! We’ll be performing on the main stage at 1pm🥰 #animeriverside #overseasidol #sorb3t #indieidols #overseasidolgroup #idolgroup #callandresponse ♬ original sound – sorb3t.official
After the release of their call-and-response video, Sorb3t began attracting some negative attention on TikTok and Twitter. On May 25th, 2023, Twitter user @kissfew tweeted the video, saying "I might have to stan." The video gained over 1,200 quote tweets. Multiple commenters gave left negative comments on the video, and many commented that it was off-putting that Berry pronounced "Strawberry" with a Japanese accent. For example, user @lovelinenjoyer commented on the accent, gaining over 40 likes (shown below, left). Others made comments about their looks. User @garliccries insulted Berry's bangs, gaining over 170 likes in an hour (shown below, right).
However, the group also had many people defending them from hate online, noting that unlike in K-pop culture, J-pop is more accepting of "overseas idols," which also dubbed kaigai idols, and argued Sorb3t wasn't as strange as some people made them out to be. Twitter user @naachns posted about the concept of overseas idols, gaining over 20 retweets and 130 likes (shown below, left). User @jemimemu posted a similar sentiment, gaining over 80 retweets and 740 likes (shown below, right).
After the group attracted negative attention, Berry posted a video apologizing to the people she offended, notably saying her Japanese boyfriend had come up with her call-and-response chant. The video gained over 3.4 million views in less than one week (shown below).
@sorb3t.official Replying to @yes ♬ original sound – sorb3t.official
On May 28th, the group announced they had been doxxed and were stepping away from social media for an indefinite amount of time. The call-and-response video was also deleted.
 Twitter – lovelinenjoyer
 Twitter – garlliccries
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