31 December 2011

Some Johnny's Countdown 2011-2012 thoughts

Well I woke up around 3AM-ish to watch Kohaku and then of course Johnny's Countdown 2011-2012 earlier today. It's strange to think it's been 2012 somewhere in the world for about 12 hours now when there is still quite a bit of time before the clock strikes midnight where I am. But I find watching these programs are a great way to start the last day of the year.

Focusing on JCD this year seemed so much more energetic and fun than last year. The whole atmosphere to me really felt the guys were having just as much fun as the audience for the short concert. And it seems like Yamada Ryosuke and Chinen Yuri were taken over to Tokyo Dome sometime during Kohaku so they did not have the late entrance that TOKIO did, and of course were no where to be seen near the end of Kohaku either.

I'm just going to briefly touch upon some things that I liked about the concert or stood out to me.

First off, we have another indication that Sexy Zone is indeed here to stay as they had a VTR performance of their debut song played early on, something that Hey! Say! JUMP also had the year they debuted. And I was really happy to see HSJ in the seats SZ had to watch the show. I think it's rather perfect for one FIVB group to be there for another.

The Juniors! And not just the Tokyo Juniors but Kansai Juniors as well at the Tokyo Dome and getting more attention than I've ever seen for Juniors at any JCD. It seems like Noon Boyz might actually be a group for Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki seeing as that's what they were introduced as. Also what was interesting was that Uchi Hiroki seemed to be introduced just as a member of Question? more than a Junior on his own. And it seemed so amazing that B.A.D., Hamada Takahiro, Shigeoka Daiki and Veteran were there at the Tokyo Dome and even got some spotlight as well. Of course the Gokusen fangirl in me was ecstatic to see B.A.D. next to Takaki Yuya for at least one song during the shuffle group portion. And it was nice to finally see all five members of A.B.C-Z being able to perform with Tackey & Tsubasa this year.

It was also nice to see all of HSJ on stage, even though the only reason it was possible for them to do so was because they lost their youngest member who would have sat with SZ if he was still with the group. But I loved that we had more HSJ this year and that there seemed to be more interaction between them and their senpai groups. One of the personally highlights with HSJ, besides the one already mentioned as Masuoka Masahiro making Inoo Kei sing along when TOKIO was supposed to be covering a song.

Speaking of TOKIO while I was at first disappointed that they were not around for the actual countdown to midnight when they did enter I was perfectly fine with it. I mean it's hard to beat an entrance in faux-blimps. Though I do wonder who got fur crazy when making Yamaguchi Tatsuya's costume for this.

And of course bringing up costumes immediately brings Kanjani8 to mind. It's going to take a while to get the image of Nishikido Ryo dressed as a girl out of my mind. And I loved Yokoyama Yu as the mixer/blender for the vegetables, aka the other group members. I think I've gotten used to the split for the groups as I didn't mind it too much this year.

I loved seeing Kis-My-Ft2 being able to be on stage finally as debuted artists. Especially as they had a member from Hikaru Genji, the original roller skating Johnny's group, Sato Atsuhiro, to join them for a song. And by pure luck of being 24 in this coming year Miyata Toshiya got a moment to shine and show everyone the wonderful dork he is.

Of course I was really excited about all the daisenpai at this year's JCD. I think it's definitely because 2012 will be Johnny's 50th anniversary and I thought it was great for them to have their older acts makes appearances. It did seem like Okamoto Keito was used a bit as a stand in for his father as he got to play guitar for when they covered an Otokogumi song. I won't complain as it meant more Keito, who the cameraman seemed to love. And nothing beats being able to see Shounentai perform together, or almost together with Nishikiori Kazukiyo being at the theater Tackey & Tsubasa were at.

Of course the greatest highlight for the concert for me was seeing the new NEWS perform together. I'm rather glad both Ryo and Yamashita Tomohisa were not at the Tokyo Dome as it really helped solidify that the four remaining members are the group now to me. And I love that they made sure to find NEWS fans in the audience to pan to, as to help signify that this was truly a special moment for the group as they perform as four for the first time in front of a crowd. And I was so happy that Koyama Keiichiro said one of the group's goals for the new year was to of course have concerts. Even if I can't make any just knowing that they are performing as NEWS will make me so happy.

So in the end this JCD was great for me. Everyone seemed to be in great spirits and I got to see so many of my favorites and there was fun interactions. Even though the amount of live feeds can sometimes feel like it isn't as unified as it once was I think they are finally figuring out how to balance it better.

Next year should be interesting with A.B.C-Z being a debuted group then, Nakajima Kento being old enough to participate as well as Nakayama Yuma. And of course any surprises Johnny's wants to throw in there. I'll definitely make sure I can catch a lives stream of it next year.

30 December 2011

1st half of year predictions for 2012 Sexy Zone-Johnny’s Juniors

Even with a bit of a rocky start I think things look good for Sexy Zone. While they needed to pull a lot of stunts to ensure getting the number 1 spot for their debut week their debut single has been selling well in the weeks after. While most groups just drop and rather quick after their first couple of weeks SZ’s single has been remaining on the charts and has been benefitting quite a bit from the end of year programs as well. I think now that people are getting to know the boys in the group they are attracting new fans. And with Sato Shori in a supporting role for a winter drama it will be a good step in moving him and his group into the spotlight and hopefully will continue getting the attention of new potential fans. Having their own concerts in February is a good sign that at least Johnny’s has faith that they can headline a concert and I can see them doing more concerts throughout the year to help build experience much like with Hey! Say! JUMP when they started out. I do believe in April we will get the next single from this group and hopefully by then they won’t need help from another group to get their number 1 for that.

A.B.C-Z of course is set to have an exciting year with 2012 with not only a debut in February but they follow that up with their stage show which in turn will be followed by even more live performances across the country from March until early May. Since they do not seem to be following the typical release pattern of debuted groups I will expect to be surprised by whatever they release next. But I can see them being a performance heavy group and see them being busy throughout the year with projects of all sorts, together or separate.

For the Tokyo Juniors I think it’s easy to predict we will be seeing the creation of a new group or so. Either that or use of groups that have been rather underused so far. Of course it may be a bit of a slow start for that at the beginning of the year as I think EbiKisuZone need to have less of a presence on Shounen Club for that to happen but I don’t see that happening until after A.B.C-Z debut and it would be more Kis-My-Ft2 lessening their time on the program because of their concerts. The few months after a debut, especially a FIVB debut, are always strange when it comes to the Juniors as Johnny’s figures out what to do with those remaining. So I would expect them to try various formations before eventually putting groups together for a while. Though from what I’ve noticed a couple of Juniors that look like Johnny’s is prepping to be in the spotlight a bit are Kyomoto Taiga and Tanaka Juri. So it will be interesting to see what comes of it.

Kansai Juniors had a good year overall in 2011, even though the departures were saddening. But for the top Kansai Juniors, like Nakayama Yuma, 7 WEST, B.A.D. and Hamada Takahiro they seem to be in a good place with being able to remain active throughout the year. Other groups like Veteran and Shadow West seem to be doing well, even with the recent roster change with Shadow West. But for those top Kanjuu I can see 2012 being another good year for them. In fact Nakayama Yuma already has something to really be proud of with his solo song being an A-side on the NYC single that comes out in a few days. He is already scheduled for Takazawa Kakumei again this year and I would not be surprised in the slightest to see him in PLAYZONE again. I would like to see the return of Shounentachi again this year, especially if Kanjuu get to be a part of the Tokyo version of the production again.

29 December 2011

1st half of year predictions for 2012 NEWS-Kis-My-Ft2

NEWS is probably not going to be able to do too much for the first couple of months in 2012 if just because Johnny’s has to shift gears a bit with them now that they don’t have to take breaks for Kanjani8 to do something. I see that March will probably be the most likely month for their comeback single, which would be actually rather fitting seeing that the comeback single after the 2006 hiatus came out in March as well. I would love to see February but I think that month will be too full with other releases wit this winter drama season having so many Johnny’s in starring roles and having a good chance of their respective groups to do the theme songs for them. Other than that I think things are looking up for the group in general now that the remaining four can fully commit themselves to the group and there won’t be any need for them to take long breaks to do something else. I do hope around the middle of the year we’ll get another single at least.

I can see Kanjani8 having a similar year in 2012 to 2011. They are in a good spot for them, they may not be as mega popular as Arashi but they have risen in popularity enough that none of the members should have to worry about not having enough work. This year though is their 8th anniversary, and as they didn’t really do anything for their 5th like most groups do I’m sure they are planning something special for this year. I do think they will keep their release pattern to make sure they have a winter concert tour as they do need the Kyocera Dome in Osaka for Johnny’s Countdown as it seems to get more and more crowded every year at the Tokyo Dome.

KAT-TUN looks to be set to have a much better year with 2012 than with 2011. While their annual tour had to be cancelled they were able to at least keep releasing singles on a regular basis for the most part and with their next album, CHAIN, coming out in January they are set to begin touring again shortly after. Kamenashi Kazuya hit it big with his recent drama, Ningen Bemu, and it’s the kind of drama I can see getting a SP for it at some point after its run. But I think this should him and the group rise again after the fall they experienced with Akanishi Jin left when it comes to sales. They will probably keep the same release pattern for the most part so I don’t think KAT-TUN fans will be left wanting this year.

With a NYC single out of the way so quickly in the year it could mean Hey! Say! JUMP could actually have a rather normal year when it comes to releases. I think for the first half of the year we will definitely see a single release and I would think an album is a possibility. If we don’t get an album in the first half of the year it will come in the second half as with the next single they will have four singles that are not on an album and that is usually about the amount before an album gets released for Japanese artists. But certainly with the group doing the theme song for Yamada Ryosuke’s winter drama we should a single out of it and I would guess a February release date. And I would expect something for the group to celebrate their 5th anniversary in 2012, but it will most likely be something around the end of the year, closer to their debut date.

Akanishi Jin should be back in the U.S. for the start of 2012 as he gears up for his U.S. debut album. I would not be surprised if he released another Japanese single for the first half of the year, because even if his goal is America his largest fan base is in Japan. So I see for him that the first half of 2012 will be him trying to balance out releasing an album in the U.S. while keeping some interest in him in Japan.

Yamashita Tomohisa looks to be already set to go for the upcoming year, most likely helped by the fact that the things he’s set to do now were probably planned for him before the decision of him leaving NEWS was finalized. I’m sure we will be getting a new single or two from him during the first half of the year. 

Kis-My-Ft2 will be kept busy next year with the tours they’ve announced. The overseas tour and the national tour should keep them touring almost all throughout the year. Being signed on with Avex should help them with releasing singles in a regular schedule so even if they will be busy with touring they can still release something new. I will assume they should have a single for each season so their next one will be in Spring followed by another in Summer and hopefully an album after that.

28 December 2011


Tegoshi Yuya (手越 祐也)

Birthdate: 11 November 1987

Junior History: Even though he joined Johnny’s & Associates in December of 2002 Tegoshi remained relatively unknown for his time as a Junior. He participated in the basic Junior activities for his eleven months as a Junior and got his big break right before being selected for NEWS when he sang a duet with Masuda Takahisa on the Shounen Club episode before NEWS was announced. 

Group History: In the early years Tegoshi was paired off with Masuda and even though he lacked the experience the other members of the group had because of his singing talent had prominent singing roles in the groups’ songs.

Right before the scandals and hiatus of the group Tegoshi began to get acting roles. And during the hiatus period formed a duo with Masuda, Tegomass, as well as continued getting drama roles. When the group came back Tegoshi kept on with getting acting roles and releasing and performing as Tegomass, the latter mainly when NEWS was not doing anything.

Tegoshi probably is one of the more active members when it comes to acting and even co-stared in a production of DREAM BOYS, one of Johnny's annual musicals.

He attends Waseda University and majors in psychology.

Random Facts: He loves soccer and plays in his free time.

He has cross dressed for not only NEWS concerts but also for one of the calendars for NEWS.

He is terrible at drawing. In fact he probably gives all other Johnny’s that are bad artists a run for their money with the levels of badness he is at with his drawing skills. But his drawings do tend to be used on the Tegomass goods.

Personal Opinion: Tegoshi to me is a brat with a heart. He may be the worst when it comes to taking advantage of his fellow members but I get the impression the only reason he does is because of how close he feels to them as you really don’t hear about him acting that way to anyone he doesn’t seem close to.

I think like other NEWS fans I really appreciated that he made sure to mention the fans in his message about Yamapi and Ryo leaving the group. Even though there are those who write him off as selfish I think he really does care about the fans. No matter what is said about his personal life when he is on stage he is always playing to the crowd and it’s probably no surprise he’s probably the member that pulls the most fanservice.

I do understand how his personality can be off-putting to some but I think at heart he's a good guy. Though I do wish he would stop trying so hard with being sexy, it doesn't work as well as he thinks, IMHO. But I do think he has come a long way since his debut and can see him pushing so hard to break away from being the "cute" one he was when NEWS debuted and he looked more like ten than fourteen.

27 December 2011

1st half of year predictions for 2012 SMAP-Tackey & Tsubasa

Since it's the end of year I've decided to see about trying to at least make some predictions for the upcoming year. Most of the focus will be on the first half of the year as it's near impossible to predict beyond that from what I've noticed with Johnny's. There will be three posts for this if just because there are so many groups/soloists to look at and I want to include the juniors of course.

SMAP is one of those groups that seems to go at their own pace when it comes to releases. They don’t release many singles before an album so I can see them either releasing one more single before an album or just release an album. I think it will depend if they feel that they need to have the singles that were on their recent best of album on a studio album. Of course with them if they release an album then it means they will go on tour, which I can see them scheduling around the summer if they do, as long as the domes are free for it. Of course they could decide to do this all over a course of a year as their 20th anniversary is over so they can take it as easy as they please if they really want to. Otherwise it will be most likely more of the same with variety shows and dramas. As popular as they are SMAP really does not have to worry much about not having enough to do at least.

TOKIO already has a single set to be released in February, which at least means they’ll have something released in 2012. I keep predicting that they will finally release a new album as one is well overdue for the group but since it has not happened in the past couple of years I’m going to just keep that as a wish. They should have at least one or two more single released in 2012 if they keep the 2011 schedule but I really hope this will be the year we finally get that album. I think it would work out well for them to release an album and tour this year, and I think sometime in the first half or around mid-year would be a good time for that to happen. And after the DVD tour release being so very well worth the wait I hope the album will be the same if it happens.

V6 like TOKIO, already has at least some plans announced for 2012 already in the form of a new single. It will drop mid-February and will at least give the group a new single for the year. Though it does not stop there for the group, as two members of the group have drama roles for the winter drama season. I can see the group releasing a bit more this year than last as they need a couple more singles before they can get their next album out. Since I don’t follow the group much I concede that I probably won’t do well predicting for them but I can see the first half of the year being quieter in the sense they probably won’t do more than their regular programs and release a single or two and of course their concert DVD in January, but they probably won’t do anything extra for promotion for that.

Kinki Kids seem to have a yearly schedule down, where when Koichi is busy with SHOCK Tsuyoshi does his solo work and then when both are available put something out together. It works for them and I think we can see that continue for next year. They have a single to start the year off before they part to do their solo activities and will probably at least get another single out this year if not two so they get an album in time for their annual winter concerts. Though there is a chance of them changing things up a bit as 2012 is their 15th anniversary but SHOCK is already scheduled for most of the first half of 2012 so if they do something for it then it will have to be in the second half of the year, which would be more appropriate anyway since their debut single was released in July so it would be closer to that date.

In 2011 Arashi took another approach with their releases from 2010 and did not release as much. I think 2012 will continue on from 2011 for the most part for them as they seem to be plateauing right now, which is not a bad thing as it does mean their popularity is stabilizing and they are set to be some of the best known faces in Japan for some time to come if things continue on. There will probably be a single in early 2012, especially with the group singing the theme song for Matsumoto Jun’s winter drama series, and I can see them release another single before the end of the first half of the year. I think it will really depend on when Johnny’s plans to have them release a new album though as they tend to release about four singles before a new album tour and they only have one released since their last album came out.

It seems like Tackey & Tsubasa has found a good schedule for them to juggle their respective musicals with their music releases. Even though they are not big sellers when it comes to their releases Johnny’s is not the kind of agency that just dumps an act if they don’t sell. They seem to have gotten back on track from when they weren’t releasing anything together and I expect them to release something in the first half of the year between the musicals and concerts they already have scheduled for 2012.

26 December 2011

A.B.C-Z debut DVD ready to pre-order

Even though there are still details unknown about this DVD release it is up for pre-order at the usual places, like CDJapan. So there is a bit more information out about the release from that, and from the looks of things this is a release any A.B.C-Z fan would be happy with.

First off there will be only one version of the release. But it will have a run time around 50 minutes and about 2000Yen, which for a Japanese DVD release is rather unheard of. There are 30 minute DVDs that sell for around 3500-4000Yen so this is a deal that would be hard to pass up on. And from the description the DVD will have video of music videos, digest footage of past lives, private footage and interviews. Plus if you get the first press version of the DVD you will get a bonus poster. So I really can't see a fan of A.B.C-Z being able to easily pass this up. I think if there is any downside it will be for fans not residing in Japan as the DVD is region 2 coded and you will need a player that can play region 2 DVDs to view it.

What's rather interesting about CDJapan's listing is that it has Pony Canyon as the label/distributor. It makes me wonder if they are the music label A.B.C-Z will be releasing with like Sexy Zone or if they will be like the in house label groups and only have Pony Canyon as a distributor will being signed under either Johnny's Entertainment or J-Storm. Though seeing as those signed under the in house labels are distributed by Sony Music Entertainment I'm more inclined to think that they must also be under Pony Canyon like SZ. And the bonus extra of a poster fits in with the kind of bonuses PC does going off of SZ's CD release.

25 December 2011

Sexy Zone's debut concerts announced

Well debut concerts have been announced for Sexy Zone, they will have them in Tokyo and in Osaka. The concerts will be in mid-February, so at least they confirm the group being around for yet another month. I'm personally hoping that at these concerts they announce a second single and maybe around that time get their own section on Johnny's net so they are 100% officially confirmed as a debuted group.

The venue they will perform at in Tokyo, the Tokyo International Forum Hall A is actually familiar to me as that was the venue used for the Junior concerts I went to while I was in Japan in 2009. I would say that it's a bit bigger than NHK Hall if my memory serves me right. But I find it oddly poetic that Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma are having their debut concerts there as that's also the venue they performed for the first time as Nakayama Yuma w/B.I.Shadow and NYC boys at.

I think starting them small like this is a good idea and I think it will make the milestones of moving up to larger venues mean more to the group. I truly expect that in a couple of years they will finally be able to have arena tours as there is a lot of talent with this group and I'm sure over time more and more people will recognize this.

And on a side note I hope everyone who celebrates it is having a merry Christmas. And for those who celebrate other winter holidays I hope you're enjoying those this year.

24 December 2011

Jumping to their dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP

Members: Yabu Kota, Yaotome Hikaru, Inoo Kei, Takaki Yuya, Arioka Daiki, Nakajima Yuto, Yamada Ryosuke, Chinen Yuri & Okamoto Keito

Back 5 (l to r): Yabu Kota, Inoo Kei, Arioka Daiki, Takaki Yuya & Yaotome Hikaru
Front 5 (l to r): Chinen Yuri, Yamada Ryosuke, Nakajima Yuto, Okamoto Keito & Morimoto Ryutaro

2007 marked a year for a new FIVB group debut and for it came the formation of Johnny’s largest group to debut at then ten members, Hey! Say! JUMP. The group was formed of many popular Juniors of the time who were all born during the current Heisei era. The JUMP in the name is meant to stand for Johnny’s Ultra Music Power and the group has two sub-units, based off of age, Hey! Say! 7 (originally the 5 youngest members, currently 4 with Okamoto, Nakajima, Yamada & Chinen) and Hey! Say! BEST (the five oldest members, Yabu, Takaki, Inoo, Yaotome & Arioka). Hey! Say! 7’s name came from the Junior group of the same name, but a five group line-up with only Nakajima, Yamada, Chinen, Takaki and Arioka as members, that released a single a few months before HSJ was announced and the 7 comes from the year it was formed, 2001. The BEST in Hey! Say! BEST is meant to stand for Boys Excellent Select Team.

HSJ pretty much did the basic things for any FIVB debut group, supported volleyball tournaments and released cute sounding songs. They did have their debut concert at the Tokyo Dome, a first for any Japanese group or soloist.

For reasons unknown to the fans in 2009 the group released only a concert DVD for the whole year and only did concert tours. It then caused fans to worry then when in the second half of the year NYC boys was announced as the group was to have Yamada and Chinen as members of it. But in 2010 HSJ released a new single and have had releases more regularly since then. Though their releases are still sporadic as while NYC boys did not last after the one single it was reformed to become NYC with the three members, Nakayama Yuma (a Kansai Junior), Yamada and Chinen, and still release singles from time to time.

A couple of years of being together they created their own kind of sub-unit, unofficially called JUMP Band. As they had many members that could play instruments they began to perform at concerts with Yuto on the drums, Keito and Yabu on guitar, Hikaru on bass, Inoo on keyboard, and usually Takaki on vocals. They have switched things up from time to time with the vocals to get the other members involved and in 2011 they were able to play as a band for their single Magic Power, with all the non-instrument playing members just dancing and singing.

In June of 2011 member Morimoto Ryutaro was caught in an underage smoking scandal which lead to his immediate indefinite suspension of activities. It was later announced that he would be starting from the beginning again but what that meant was not made clear. If the fate of Uchi Hiroki and Kusano Hironori have shown us anything it most likely means that he will no longer be a part of the group, especially when in November of 2011 he was taken off the profile pages for Hey! Say! JUMP on the official web pages.

Since then the group has gone on to release a single and look to be continuing on as they would otherwise. Next year, 2012, will mark their 5th anniversary as a group.

Yabu Kota is the oldest member of the group and has been in Johnny’s the longest of all the members. He was a member of the popular Junior group Ya-Ya-Yah where he was the leader of the group and he is the unofficial leader of Hey! Say! JUMP as well. He loves soccer and plays as a hobby. He plays the guitar in JUMP Band and has composed lyrics to some of the group’s songs.

Takaki Yuya may look the most mature but in heart he is still a kid. It is often joked that he fits in better with the members of HS7 than HSB because he is more on their level mentally. He loves to go wake boarding. He is close to his family and is really happy about the fact he is now an uncle. He tends to be the vocalist of JUMP Band if he isn’t sharing the position with other non-instrument playing members of the group.

Inoo Kei is the only member so far to go to university and is a currently enrolled at Meiji University. He is known for saying random things just for the hell of it, much to the annoyance of the other group members. He is the group’s biggest scaredy-cat, which even the younger members of the group have teased him about. He can play the piano so he plays the keyboard for JUMP Band.

Yaotome Hikaru tends to act like the group’s clown and goofs off a lot which has earned him the title of the group’s mood maker. His jokes tend to be bad but that does not stop him from making them. He also can juggle, which he tends to do mostly for concerts. He can play the guitar but for JUMP Band plays the bass.

Arioka Daiki is the youngest member of Hey! Say! BEST as well as the shortest. He has tried many things to get himself to grow taller over the years but seems like he has to settle with the fact that at least he is not the shortest member of HSJ. He was with another agency originally but was recruited by Johnny’s. He gets placed with Yamada and Chinen often, probably because they are all about the same height.

Okamoto Keito is one of the quieter members of the group. He is known for living in England for several years, and being able to speak English well, as well as being the son of Otokogumi’s Okamoto Kenichi. He and his father make the first father-son pair to have debuted as Johnny’s. Keito can play the guitar and is one of the usual members of JUMP Band.

Nakajima Yuto used to be a small and cute Junior but now is easily the tallest member of HSJ. When he was a Junior he was promoted a lot by the agency and had supporting roles in a couple of popular dramas. He is a doting older brother to his younger brother. He has been good friends with Yamada since their Junior days. He plays the drums for JUMP Band.

Yamada Ryosuke is the most popular member and the one that gets the most drama roles. Even though he has the “cool” look down he likes to try to do impersonations and other goofy things. He admires Domoto Koichi greatly, who was the inspiration for him to join Johnny’s as his mother is a big Koichi fan. He likes eating and the other members tend to tease him about it.

Chinen Yuri is the acrobat of the group and probably the member best at physical activities. Before his voice broke he used to sing all the high parts of HSJ songs, so they sound quite different now that his voice has changed. While he looks cute he is rather snarky. He is well known for his admiration of Ohno Satoshi, which he is quite vocal about.

top row (l to r): Yabu Kota, Nakajima Yuto, Yaotome Hikaru & Takaki Yuya
bottom row (l to r): Inoo Kei, Chinen Yuri, Yamada Ryosuke, Arioka Daiki & Okamoto Keito

TRIVIA: Chinen’s father is a bronze medal Olympic gymnast.

Takaki is the only member to have a solo released on a CD, as he sung the insert song, Oretachi no Seishun, for the Gokusen 3 drama which he was in.

Hey! Say! 7 is the only sub-unit of the group to have had a concert tour of their own.

Next Entry > Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin

Directory >
Johnny’s Juniors, full of rising stars and heartbreak
The Early and Rocky Path to Fame
Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver
Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai
Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest
Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School
The Living Legend of SMAP
TOKIO, From Spaceships to the Over 30s World
Victory, Volleyball, Vegetable, Vicylce? V6
KinKi Kids, It's Not What You Think
Arashi, Storming to the Top
The Inseparable Duo, Tackey & Tsubasa
North, East, West, South ... It's big NEWS
Kansai Underdogs,  Kanjani∞
Cartoon? KAT-TUN!
Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP
Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin
How to Debut Without Even Trying, Ikuta Toma
Kis-My-Ft2, Everybody Go (Roller Skating)!
Yamashita Tomohisa, Johnny’s Golden Boy
Entering the Sexy Zone
The 5Stars A.B.C-Z
International Ventures
Johnny's and Charity 
Odds & Ends

23 December 2011

Q&A Month: Question 14

I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season so far. I just finished my last working day for the year and I'm going to make sure I enjoy my one week of being able to sleep in.

I answered the one non-Johnny's question left for me by an anonymous reader over on my non-Johnny's blog. It was about how to enjoy Japan on a budget, so I hope the tips I gave will be useful.

And for the Johnny's question I answered for today, this one is a long one from Markl02: This question has to do with your interesting study of the history of Johnny's Entertainment. Do you wish you had been a fan of Johnny's during a different time of his idols? When do you think would be the most exciting time to be a Johnny's fan? Maybe it's right now...I think with all the current debuts, shows, and idols, they're doing pretty well in 2011. But is there another time when you wish you were there to see it? 

I think I’m happy with becoming a fan when I did. Sure there are times I feel like I missed out on things but I can’t help but feel like I entered into the fandom at a good time to be there when there was still so much excitement of having NEWS back and of course for Hey! Say! JUMP’s debut.

If anything I would like to meet more fans that have been Johnny’s fans for longer than I have. I think they would have interesting perspectives about things that have happened and are currently happening with groups. I guess it’s my analytical side of me that would like to learn more about not only Johnny’s but fandom as well as I would like to know more about the history of English language Johnny’s fans as I think there isn’t a lot of knowledge by the newer members of the fandom that know about the ones that came before them. And for me I think it would be good to know as I’m sure there are a lot of things we take for granted that were possibly difficult to find or do in the past.

21 December 2011


Kato Shigeaki (加藤シゲアキ)

Birthdate: 11 July 1987

Junior History: He joined Johnny’s & Associates in 1999 and was shuffled through several Junior groups, such as B.B.B., B.B.A., B.B.D. & B.A.D., until he was one of the selected Juniors in J-Support which was later renamed K.K.Kity, the K in his last name, Kato, being one of the three Ks. As one of the three Ks he got more of the screen time with the other two Ks, Koyama Keiichiro and Kusano Hironori, when they performed. Then in 2003 he was selected with those other two to be a part of NEWS.

Group History: With a large group unless you can find something to stand out with you tend to get shuffled into the back, which was where Shige was stuck for much of the early years with NEWS. He once confessed in an interview that as the least popular member of the group (they know how much of their concert sell so it’s one of the basis for figuring out popularity) he had thought of quitting during those years. But then the scandals happened, and while he got very little work during that time it did make him want to be a part of the group even more.

Around the time the group reunited he began getting drama roles a bit more frequently and as the years have gone on he’s been one of the members that have had the most acting roles and was the first member of the group, outside of Yamashita Tomohisa, to star in a drama series. And next year he will be the first Johnny’s to publish a novel when his debut novel, Pink to Grey, comes out.

He is known for being the weakest singer and dancer, so he tends to do the “raps” or have the solo lines that have auto-tune distortion. He does know how to play the guitar and has composed his own songs.

Random Facts: He is left handed.

His dog, Nana, was given to him by his ex-K.K.Kity group mate Yokoo Wataru (current Kis-My-Ft2 member).

He is originally from Osaka and even went to the same pre-school as Kansai Junior Hamanaka Bunichi.

He is allergic to cats but has an imaginary one, Wagahai, that he uses to write his J-Web blog posts from the view point of. Wagahai has also had play dates with Koyama’s cat, Nyanta. (Don’t ask.)

Personal Opinion: What can I say, Shige is my favorite member of this group, has been for years really. I will admit he was probably the last member that I was able to remember the face of but the moment I started reading J-Webs of the members Shige quickly became my favorite. Even though he wrote about everyday matters the way he wrote about them made them sound like anything but everyday.

Another thing that appeals to me about him is that he is rather un-idol-like. He is not good a dancing or singing, which he is willing to admit, nor does he have the typical Japanese idol look to him. But I think his willingness to admit his weaknesses and still work hard at overcoming them is endearing. Not to mention inspirational, because it is so easy to just give up on the things you are not good at. And who ever heard of an idol for being popular from his writing?

And yet all of that is Shige and I really admire him for it.

I also love that as much as he complains about them he really loves the other members of the group, especially his long term best friend Koyama. Koyashige needs to official exist and hopefully with NEWS down to four they can get it to go along with Tegomass.

Q&A Month: Question 13

Don't know about all of you but I'm in denial about Christmas being so close. I'm glad it is though because I have next week off and I'll probably using that time to spam away with my blogs, especially as I have end of year and beginning of year posts I want to do.

Today's question comes from Ani2: when the earthquake happened, it was said that there is going to be a charity single as well, but we haven´t heard anything of it anymore sadly. Do you think the charity single idea has been cancelled now ? 

I think Johnny’s may have mentioned that they would think about the option of doing a charity single but never committed to one. I think the idea they would do one came more from people remembering J-Friends that was created for the last big earthquake Japan had. But I think in the end Johnny’s has decided instead on doing their Marching J project. In a way it makes sense to do it like this if just because trying to do something like J-Friends again would be near impossible as there are about twice as many groups around than there were in 1995 so scheduling would be near impossible.

And even then the J-Friends project began well after the earthquake and if Johnny’s wants to do another charity like that there is still plenty of time as it will take years before the affected areas are finished with reconstruction. Since J-Friends was only to help with funding the education of the children affected by the quake while in contrast Marching J is funding the reconstruction of the affected areas in a more general way in comparison.

Of course that doesn’t mean there won’t be some kind of charity CD at some point, but I think Johnny’s will probably be more likely to continue on doing what they have been for Marching J.

19 December 2011

Interesting Times in Junior Land

For anyone keeping an eye on the Juniors it's pretty clear things are changing up for them, especially the Tokyo Juniors. It was pretty much assumed that A.B.C-Z would fill the gap Kis-My-Ft2 left when they debuted but now with them debuting as well there really isn't a group to do so anymore. The only group that could really do so would be B.I.Shadow but of course with Sexy Zone's debut that group no longer exists. And going from the recent reports for the January Shounen Club taping as well as the latest magazines the other group that might have filled that slot, Hip Hop Jump, is no longer a group. Of course there is still Mis Snow Man, but Johnny's seems rather insistent on keeping them as back dancers and Question?, who seem to be around to either be a support band or perform with Uchi Hiroki.

This of course makes for a perfect set up for new groups to be formed. But until the newly debuted groups stop dominating Shounen Club, which probably won't be for a few months yet, we probably won't see too many getting formed for now. Perhaps we'll get a group to be the back dancers for Hey! Say! JUMP's upcoming winter concerts but I don't see much else being done and just a lot of shuffling of Juniors around as Johnny's let the debuted groups stay in that spotlight as they continue to promote the units that have releases to sell. I think though we'll finally start seeing Kisumai show up less on SC when their concerts start up as it would just be too hard for them to do such an extensive national tour and an overseas tour. Of course it'll be interesting to see if they'll have a new Junior unit for back dancers for at least the larger venues or will just use the older back dancer units like M.A.D., M.A.D.E. or even Mis Snow Man. Of course they could also have a group of group-less Juniors but we shall wait and see about that. And who knows how long it'll take for SZ and A.B.C-Z to stop being regulars on SC.

I think it's clear that Juniors like Kyomoto Taiga and Tanaka Juri are benefiting quite a bit from the recent changes. These two have been getting quite a bit of screen time and are probably likely candidates for a possible new group, especially with Juri considering Hip Hop Jump was probably put together in the first place for him. But I think with a new group he should go further. I think Juniors like Matsumura Hokuto and Morimoto Shintaro will probably do well to be in a new group, seeing as their futures seem a bit uncertain at the moment but seeing as they are getting placed with Kyomoto and Juri for performances and photo shoots I think they're not in too much trouble yet when it comes to be eventually shoved into the back ground. Plus they have their ages on their side unlike older Juniors who probably have less of a chance unless they manage to get the lucky breaks Kisumai and A.B.C-Z managed to get, but that will mean being in a group.

Two Juniors I think that people should be keeping an eye on would be Sanada Yuma and Nozawa Yuki. While they are probably two of the "older" Juniors with how they've been pushed recently, with being regulars on a national TV program and the fact they are more often seen without their group, Mis Snow Man, than with them I think shows clear signs that Johnny's has plans for them. I would not be surprised at all if they are put with another group eventually and Mis Snow Man is left as a five member group. Which rather sucks for Mis Snow Man as they don't seem like they're gotten much of a chance to really showcase themselves as a group, but at least the movie they did, Hot Snow, is getting a DVD/BD release so fans will have something to hold onto and show their support for the group with.

I have the feeling Inoue Mizuki might end up being the chibi Junior that will become the next golden boy now that Morimoto Shintaro has grown too old for the role. I do admit I'm mainly basing this off the fact he had a role in Kimura Takuya's current drama as it makes me think of Nakajima Yuto in Kimutaku's drama, Engine, when he was just a chibi Junior himself.  But considering the star power of SMAP and the fact he's also a part of the Junior segment of SMAPxSMAP, he's in the right spot to begin getting that kind of pushing from the agency as people outside of Junior fandom have more of a chance of knowing him than any of the other young Juniors. Of course it's probably still rather up in the air about this but I think the upcoming year we'll see one of the chibi Juniors get noticeably more attention than the rest and right now my bet is on Mizuki.

Of course it's not just the Tokyo Juniors getting a shake up. With the recent Christmas concerts for the Kansai Juniors comes reports that the non-headlining groups for the shows have had roster changes, probably the most noticeable being that Shadow WEST is now a duo with the current members being Mukai Koji and Kaneuchi Toma. There's a good run down over at the Kanjuu live journal community for those interested in that, as well as confirming some departures.

2012 is shaping up to be an interesting year for Juniors and their fans. It will probably be just as frustrating as it will be exciting as Johnny's shuffles groupings around trying to find good matches to go with whatever they have planned. But what is Junior fandom without some heartbreak?

Q&A Month: Question 12

Okay, so quick semi-personal update. My internet connection at home is iffy right now but hopefully it'll be sorted out soon. I had actually caught with replying to comments early yesterday so if you left a comment sometime before about noon yesterday I should have reply for you.

And today's question comes from Natalie - SOme people argue that NYC ad B.I.Shadow are fully debuted but they don't have a section on the Johhny's site. What is your opinion? 

I tend to follow what the official sites say. NYC and B.I.Shadow still appear under the Junior sections so it’s hard to say they are fully debuted, as in a unit that is meant to stay around for the long term, and until Sexy Zone gets their own section I’m a bit iffy on them though I think they will eventually get one. And since B.I. Shadow is currently no more it’s difficult to try to say they are a debuted group.

NYC is a strange one because it has two members who aren’t Juniors anymore and they have released more than one single. I personally see them more as the group that’s supposed to be the vehicle to lead to Nakayama Yuma’s eventual debut that will actually take him out of Junior status. Something that seems to be what Johnny’s is thinking as well with the new NYC release also being promoted as a double A-side with a Yuma solo song.

Honestly since we are just fans it’s hard to tell what management at Johnny’s & Associates are thinking and how they count their groups but I think within the next few months some of these things will be cleared up, except for NYC as that group just seems intent on being the odd one out until they figure out what to do with Yuma.

17 December 2011

Cartoon? KAT-TUN!

Members: Kamanashi Kazuya, Tanaka Koki, Taguchi Junnosuke, Ueda Tatsuya & Nakamaru Yuichi

Front row (left to right) Akanishi Jin & Kamenashi Kazuya
Back row (left to right) Tanaka Koki, Taguchi Junnosuke, Ueda Tatsuya & Nakamaru Yuichi

KAT-TUN started out as a six member Junior group with the current members and Akanishi Jin. They were put together as a group by Domoto Koichi of Kinki Kids in 2001 when he wanted a group of Juniors to be his back dancers for a program he was on at the time. Their group name comes from the first letter of their last names Kamenashi, Akanishi, Taguchi, Tanaka, Ueda and Nakamaru. Once the group was formed they also began to appear on the Shounen Club as regulars.

From the start the main leads of the group were Kamenashi Kazuya and Jin. As they tended to get featured a lot during their Junior days they became popular, especially once NEWS debuted and they were one of the few remaining Junior groups. They were able to hold their own solo concerts, which were even released on DVD, as a Junior group. The greatest factors in their rise though were two hit drama series, Nobuta no Produce which Kamenashi starred in and Gokusen 2 which starred both Kame and Jin. From these dramas the popularity of the Kame and Jin rose and in turn raised the popularity of the group.

Finally in March 2006 they got to debut. KAT-TUN debuted with not only a single but also an album and a DVD all released on the same day and debuting at number 1 across all three sales charts. They are the second artist able to dominate all three charts in release week. They were also given their own record label, J-One Records which is a sub-label of J-Storm, for their releases.

In October of that same year though Jin announced that he was going to go to the United States for study, marking his first departure from the group. Nothing was announced for him to leave the group which was left as uncertain at the time. The other five continued on during his absence until he came back after about six months and they decided to let him rejoin the group.

In early 2010 The group embarked on their first tour around Asia but it was announced that Jin would not be a part of them as he would be performing the U.S. during that time. After the tour and Jin’s U.S. concerts what fans had been fearing happened. Akanishi Jin announced he was officially leaving the group for good to go solo. With this the A of the group’s name was no longer to stand for Akanishi and instead the KA from then on were to stand for KAmenashi.

While the departure did hurt the group’s popularity, as Jin was one of the most popular members, they still remained one of the better selling groups for Johnny’s. And seem to be climbing back up in popularity as group members continue to get drama roles. 2011 overall has not been a good year for the group in general as while it marks their 5th anniversary since debut in the wake of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami almost all plans for the year for them to celebrate it have been put on hold or cancelled.

Kamenashi Kazuya is the youngest member of the group and is considered the leader. He is the lead vocalist of the group, which he shared with Jin when he was with the group. He is the member that is most active with dramas and tends to get the lead roles. He is one of the handful of Johnny’s that is a part of news broadcasts with him being a presenter for the sports news program, Going! Sports & News. He loves baseball and even played the sport until he had to give it up as his activities as a Junior took up too much time.

Taguchi Junnosuke is easy to spot in the group as he is easily the tallest member. He seems a rather odd fit for the group as he is naturally a goofy kind of person so he does not really have the same cool image the other member shave. He is the most acrobatic of the group though he rarely gets chances to show this off. He loves billiards and will even play in tournaments.

Tanaka Koki is the rapper of the group and like Sakurai Sho before him writes his own raps, which he does under the penname Joker. While he looks like a tough-guy he’s really a softie, enjoys to cook and knows how to sew. Or in other words completely fails to have any “cred” as a rapper in the Western sense of the word.

Looks are deceiving when it comes to Ueda Tatsuya. He may look the most effeminate but with hobby of boxing he is probably the last member you would want to mess with. He has been writing his own songs for his solo songs for years. He has had a solo concert under the name MOUSE PEACE that he still uses for his solo musical activities outside of KAT-TUN.

Nakamaru Yuichi is known for being the group’s beat boxer as well as being a big scaredy-cat. He gets teased a lot for being overlooked and of course for being scared of almost everything, the later leading him to be the one asked to do the more frightening things in the group, like bungee jumping at one of their concerts. He is also the group’s main MC from his talkative nature and is the one leading the talks at the group’s concerts.

(from left to right) Taguchi Junnosuke, Tanaka Koki, Kamenashi Kazuya,
Ueda Tatsuya & Nakamaru Yuichi
TRIVIA: Kame’s first CD release was not with KAT-TUN but with Yamashita Tomohisa with the temporary duo Shuuji to Akira for the Nobuta no Produce drama that had the hit single Seishun no Amigo

B’z guitarist, and Grammy Winner, Matsumoto Takahiro wrote the music for REAL FACE, the group’s debut song.

Koki’s younger brother Tanaka Juri is currently a Johnny’s Junior.

Next Entry > Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP

Directory >
Johnny’s Juniors, full of rising stars and heartbreak
The Early and Rocky Path to Fame
Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver
Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai
Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest
Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School
The Living Legend of SMAP
TOKIO, From Spaceships to the Over 30s World
Victory, Volleyball, Vegetable, Vicylce? V6
KinKi Kids, It's Not What You Think
Arashi, Storming to the Top
The Inseparable Duo, Tackey & Tsubasa
North, East, West, South ... It's big NEWS
Kansai Underdogs,  Kanjani∞
Cartoon? KAT-TUN!
Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP
Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin
How to Debut Without Even Trying, Ikuta Toma
Kis-My-Ft2, Everybody Go (Roller Skating)!
Yamashita Tomohisa, Johnny’s Golden Boy
Entering the Sexy Zone
The 5Stars A.B.C-Z
International Ventures
Johnny's and Charity 
Odds & Ends

Pink and Gray and Shige

I've honestly been meaning to write this entry since the news first came out but kept putting it off. But this is definitely one news piece I want to discuss as it combines two of my favorite things, books and Kato Shigeaki.

The news has been out for a while, but Kato Shigeaki is going to have his first novel published next year and it is titled Pink to Gray. It is about two friends who both enter the entertainment industry, with one finding great success and the other very little.

Tokyo Graph article. (English)

I've always been an avid reader since I learned how and for those who check out my other journal, My-kei, know that I've tried by hand at writing novels by participating in National Novel Writing Month. Of course even though I've written enough for a novel I have yet to be happy enough with what I wrote to begin the rewriting stage for them, which they of course need. So I do admit about being a bit jealous of the fact that Shige was able to write his first novel and have it considered good enough to publish. Of course I'm sure he's done rewrites and everything else that comes with novel writing but still it's pretty amazing that he could get out the story he wanted to first time out instead of the trail and error other authors have faced.

I do feel like I get what kind of dedication it must have taken to write the novel in such little time. With Nanowrimo the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in only 30 days so the fact that he wrote his in about two months and had to spend up to twelve hours in front of a computer to do so is something I can relate to.  And I know that it really shows how little he had to do during that time, especially if he did rewrites.

I am really interested in the story. Even though Shige has commented that it is not autobiographical one of the main rules of thumb for authors is to write what you know so I'm sure the novel is still colored by his experiences in the entertainment industry. And the title is rather telling seeing as the colors for the main leads of idol groups tend to be either red or pink and of course gray is the kind of color you would only expect something like an unknown back dancer to wear.

Of course while I will be buying the novel I won't be able to actually read it. Of course it's my goal to one day be good enough with Japanese to be able to read something like this, but for right now it's just not happening. But I still want to support him and wish him well with this endeavor.

15 December 2011

Oricon 2011 charts (Johnny's only)

Well Oricon wrapped up the 2011 sales year at the end of last week and some numbers are out for the CD single and album charts. So like previous years I'll be sharing the list of the Johnny's CDs on them.


*6 *,625,935 Lotus / 嵐 11/02/23
*7 *,614,131 迷宮ラブソング / 嵐 11/11/02
10 *,441,680 Everybody Go / Kis-My-Ft2 11/08/10
15 *,297,781 OVER / Hey! Say! JUMP / 11/06/29
19 *,257,932 T.W.L/イエローパンジーストリート / 関ジャニ∞ 11/04/20
21 *,254,171 Magic Power / Hey! Say! JUMP / 11/09/21
23 *,241,630 Eternal / 赤西仁 11/03/02
30 *,211,908 Sexy Zone / Sexy Zone 11/11/16
31 *,210,749 ULTIMATE WHEELS / KAT-TUN 11/02/02
32 *,209,871 BIRTH / KAT-TUN 11/11/30
36 *,190,942 マイホーム / 関ジャニ∞ 11/05/11
38 *,188,555 「ありがとう」~世界のどこにいても~ / Hey! Say! JUMP 10/12/15
39 *,186,571 ツブサニコイ / 関ジャニ∞ 11/08/17
40 *,185,395 365日家族 / 関ジャニ∞ 11/06/08
43 *,179,296 RUN FOR YOU / KAT-TUN 11/08/03
45 *,174,332 WHITE / KAT-TUN 11/05/18
47 *,171,068 Time / KinKi Kids 11/06/15
48 *,151,056 ユメタマゴ / NYC 11/03/09
68 *,111,523 縁を結いて / 堂本剛 11/04/06
70 *,108,282 青いベンチ / テゴマス 11/02/16
83 *,*89,498 はだかんぼー / 山下智久 11/01/19
86 *,*88,964 Nijiの詩 / 堂本剛 11/09/07
94 *,*82,792 Sexy. Honey. Bunny!/タカラノイシ / V6 11/08/24


*1 *,907,589 Beautiful World / 嵐 11/07/06
*9 *,413,943 SMAP AID / SMAP 11/08/17
21 *,286,537 FIGHT / 関ジャニ∞ 11/11/16
32 *,206,915 A.N.JELL WITH TBS系連続ドラマ「美男ですね」MUSIC COLLECTION / A.N.JELL 11/10/05
38 *,175,759  K album / KinKi Kids 11/11/09 
47 *,135,404 SUPERGOOD, SUPERBAD / 山下智久 11/01/26
55 *,108,602 TEST DRIVE featuring JASON DERULO / JIN AKANISHI 11/12/07
83 *,*75,697 テゴマスのまほう / テゴマス 11/10/19
94 *,*70,909 僕の見ている風景 / 嵐 10/08/04

Q&A Month: Question 11

Have to say I'm feeling pretty proud that I'm already on the double digits now with answering these questions.

I actually want to write a post that goes more in depth about the topic it touches on, but until then here's pretty much the start of it thanks to question Missnowz? had: I want to ask your opinion on the current status of Matsumura Hokuto. I have heard that B.I.Shadow is still a junior group however that was only from one source. So, if B.I.Shadow is no longer together, where do you think Matsumura Hokuto fits in within the juniors?

I think right now he will be one of the floaters, like Kyomoto Taiga or Casey Anderson, so he’ll perform regularly but not with a group for at least a while. But I think from the fact that he is still a regular on Shounen Club and one that actually sings in performances are positive signs for him. Just with the debuts a lot of attention are going to the newly debuted groups and not so much on Juniors.

It usually takes a while for Johnny’s to start putting together new Junior groups, but with A.B.C-Z’s upcoming debut I’m sure once that happens we’ll be seeing new groups formed around that time or perhaps even sooner as Hip Hop Jump seems to be gone now as they are no longer introduced as a group on Shounen Club and the latest magazines don't have the members together as a group. With that the only Tokyo groups left would be Question? and Mis Snow Man but from how Johnny's has treated those groups I think it's clear they're going to be creating new groups instead of having them in the spotlight.

14 December 2011

COUNTDOWN TO NEWS: Masuda Takahisa

Masuda Takahisa (増田 貴久) 

Birthdate: 4 July 1986

Junior History: He joined the agency in 1998 and was mostly a back dancer and appeared in the usual magazines with other Juniors. He got his first break when he got a role in the 3-nen 3-gumi Kinpachi-sensei series with fellow Junior Kato Shigeaki in 2001. He had another drama role in 2003 and finally sang on Shounen Club that year, a duet with fellow Junior Tegoshi Yuya, instead of just being a back dancer as he had been before.

Group History: Shortly after NEWS debuted Johnny’s created a new Junior group Kis-My-Ft and needed a Junior who had a last name beginning with M and could roller skate. Not being able to find one they had Massu join the group, even though he had debuted. This did not last long though as NEWS became too active and Kis-My-Ft eventually went through a member change to become Kis-My-Ft2.

As he and Tegoshi were the only members not in a group when NEWS debuted the two were often paired together. When the group was on suspension during 2006 the two were made into a duo called Tegomass and debuted not only in Japan but in Sweden as well. Since then he has done activities as both a member of NEWS and Tegomass as the duo lasted post-hiatus.

He is one of the members that does not do a lot of acting but he easily makes up for it with being one of the stronger singers of the group.

Random Facts: Massu is good friends with KAT-TUN’s Nakamaru Yuichi.

He was a member of TU→YU, a fictional boy band that had the lead actor of the Kinpachi-sensei series as well as some of the Johnny’s who had all been in the drama over the years, for a series of commercials and even released a digital song with the group.

Personal Opinion: I simply love Massu. There’s just something about him that always makes me want to smile, which perhaps is just the easy going smile he usually has. And I personally love that you don’t expect someone who looks so cute as he does to be so talented, or so buff. I think the fact that he has some nice muscles has to be one of the greatest secrets about him, even though you can see him working out in backstage clips with his baby face it’s rather misleading.

His fashion sense is definitely something that stands out and I love how he really doesn’t seem to care if others may think it is strange. Of course coupling that with the fact that he seems rather insistent of having his hair styled a certain way and not deviating from it, except once when he had to for a drama role but even then grew it back to be styled in the same way as before, really gives him the impression that he’s more about looking like he likes than trying to fit somebody else’s standards. I cannot help but admire that about him.

And while it has taken a bit to get used to his singing voice I’ve come to love it. I’m really glad that he got a chance to really shine with Tegomass and with NEWS done to four members I’m sure he’ll be able to shine even more as a singer.

13 December 2011

Q&A Month: Question 10

Okay, it looks like I'm pretty much on track for keeping up on blog posts, minus replying to comments, for now. Tomorrow will be Massu's turn for the Countdown to NEWS project I'm doing and I'll be making sure to get another question answered. Also I know my Kis-My-Ft2 single is on the way, so whenever that comes in I'll do a review post for it and sometime soon I want to do a Shounen Club post as there seems to be some interesting things going on with the Juniors.

Today is the final question from Chris: - you blog about Johnnys in general but do you have a top favourite group or JE singer?

I’m one of those people who rarely have a single favorite but I do have a few groups and members that are at the top of my love pile. For groups; NEWS and Hey! Say! JUMP are there with TOKIO and Kis-My-Ft2 not far behind.

Then for favorite individuals I think the list more or less goes like this: Kato Shigeaki, Nagase Tomoya (the only Johnny’s I legitimately have a crush on), Takaki Yuya, Okamoto Keito, Nakayama Yuma and Senga Kento. Of course there are plenty of others that I could list but these are the ones that I know I favor a bit more than them.

12 December 2011

Q&A Month: Question 9

As promised here is another answer for one of the many questions left over from last month. I do want to thank everyone who left one, I really appreciate it and I hope to do this again next November, though hopefully I'll be able to answer more of them in that month.

Also I am slowly getting around to responding to people. Hopefully in the next few days I'll be able to catch up again.

Today's question comes from Natalie: - Since sexy Zone and Kisumai debuted so closely do you think that Sexy Zone promotions will effect who well Kisumai does?

Well as could be seen Kis-My-Ft2 ended up having to help Sexy Zone out so I don’t think that should have been the worry a lot of Kisumai fans had. Kisumai have proven to easily be the more popular of the two and I almost feel like Kisumai’s delayed debut actually hurt SZ’s debut a bit.

I have the feeling if someone had a poll in Japan about the recent Johnny’s debut they would answer about Kisumai’s debut and not SZ’s. I mean Kisumai had a large fan base ready and waiting for them, coupled with a drama that was at least popular for the audience it was targeting to tie-in to and quite a bit put into their debut promotion because Johnny’s knew they would sell well. SZ on the other hand was a group of mostly unknown Juniors with the FIVB tournament for a tie-in and while they had a god deal of promotion it wasn’t on the same level as Kisumai because Johnny’s couldn’t tell how well they would sell. And with the two so close with their debuts it’s easy for Kisumai to outshine SZ as they are debuting after achieving so much beforehand while SZ is having to start from near scratch.

Then there’s the fact that the range of fans each group is aiming for is a bit different. Kisumai is older and attract and older audience than SZ that is set up to attract a younger audience. There may be some cross over but probably not enough to create any issues with someone having to pick one over the other kind of thing.

11 December 2011

A.B.C-Z to debut , thoughts & speculation

Of course one of the topics I've been hoping to get the chance to write about is the announcement of A.B.C-Z's debut next year. At the recent press conference for their upcoming stage show they made the announcement and mentioned that instead of debuting with a CD they will debut with a DVD. They cited that they feel that it was important for people to see them perform and they got the okay from Johnny Kitagawa. They will be the first Johnny's group to debut with a DVD and the release is scheduled for February 4th, 2012.

Yahoo! Japan News article. (Japanese)

Honestly I've been of the mind that there was no way A.B.C-Z would not debut once the announcement was made months ago. So while I'm not surprised at the announcement I am surprised that it will be so soon.  Yet seeing as they aren't doing the traditional debut I think it'll work out fine for them. If anything they shouldn't have to worry as much about competition as the groups that have CD debuts.

One thing I'm glad to see is that at least Johnny forgot about the whole adding members thing. From the kind of group they seem to be set up to be keeping the group as it is should be just fine.

I can only assume this DVD though will be something like a DVD single, which is basically a DVD with a PV, sometimes some live performance footage, that gets released by some artists from time to time. The big draw of course being that the DVD is not much more expensive than a CD single. Or I guess you can think of it as buying the bonus DVD on a limited edition of a CD single but without the CD. But I can't see them releasing something like a full concert or musical on DVD for this as I'm sure Johnny's still wants strong sales from it and those are expensive.

I can't help but think that this debut is a way for Johnny's to get back to their roots in a way. The first Johnny's group began with musicals after all and it was one of the big mainstays of the early Johnny's were their strong ties to musicals. In fact even with the current Johnny's groups you can see the musical influence with how theatrical their concerts can be, and of course the fact that you can find group members being on stage as well as on screens easily. But it's been sometime there has been a group directly tied to musicals, I think Shounentai were probably the last and even now they've cut back on musical work when they let PLAYZONE pass on to other groups.

I think A.B.C-Z and musicals are a perfect fit. It's where their strengths lie and while I still find it hard to imagine them as recording artists I have no trouble with seeing them as being stars of stage productions. And I really have it stuck in my head that they will be the next Shounentai, it just seems really fitting to me. Not to mention that it would be great if they were just as successful.

It'll be interesting to see how this debut will go as it's rather unprecedented but with the release date in less than two months I'm sure we'll be getting a lot of news about it in the next few weeks.

Q&A Month: Question 8

First off I'm sorry for falling behind again with responses. I've just begun a new job so I'm trying to get used to the schedule but I made sure to set things up with at least the rest of these Q&A questions that I should have one to post every day until they are done to avoid any days without a post. Of course there are plenty of things I want to write about in recent news, and some becoming not so recent, and I'm hoping to find time for those real soon so I can catch up. But for those waiting for answers still they should be up in the next couple of weeks, I have at least made sure to begin to answer every question but of course some will need longer answers than others.

Now for today's question, from Hasshi-Z about A.B.C-Z: do you really believe they´ll get a CD debut next year?

I feel really bad about not answering this sooner with the recent news for the group. But well I guess even if a DVD debut has been confirmed that is different than a CD debut. I think it will depend on when in 2012 they plan on debuting the group. If it’s sometime in the first half I am sure that they will get a CD debut, if it is late in 2012 they may not, but either way they are well on their way for a CD debut with the recent announcement for a major debut.

 Either way things are getting more and more definite for A.B.C-Z and I think they’re proving to be a group that Johnny’s can have faith in to be able to sell. Of course how well is up to the fans and the promotion they will get, but I feel that they won’t have to worry about handshake events, especially if their DVD debut is with a DVD single which should be cheap enough for people to afford multiple copies of. But for that kind of information we are once again stuck having to wait and see.

10 December 2011

Kansai Underdogs, Kanjani∞

Members: Shibutani Subaru, Yokoyama Yu, Maruyama Ryuhei, Yasuda Shota, Murakami Shingo, Nishikido Ryo & Ohkura Tadayoshi 

Top four (L to R): Yokoyama Yu, Nishikido Ryo, Shibutani Subaru & Yasuda Shota
Bottom four (L to R): Ohkura Tadayoshi, Uchi Hiroki, Maruyama Ryuhei, Murakami Shingo

Kanjani∞ (the ∞ is pronounced 'eito' as it's supposed to stand for 8 and since ∞ is hard to type the 8 can be used in place of it) is known for their Osaka roots, which means comedy as the most popular Japanese comedians come out of Osaka for the most part. All members were Kansai Juniors and their debut single was originally only released in the Kansai (Western Japan where the city of Osaka is located) area. And while Kinki Kids was the first group to debut with only Kansai members Kanjani8 is known as THE Kansai group for Johnny's.

The name of the group comes from two parts. The first, Kanjani, is actually a short version of Kansai Johnny‘s while the 8 comes from the Kansai TV station the group had a variety program on before their debut. Originally they were a seven member group but seeing as they had the 8 in their name they added another member to give them eight to complete the group.

The group was put together with the 3 Ossans and the Junior group V. West as well as popular Kansai Junior Nishikido Ryo. The group was not seen as official until they performed the play Another, which was a hit, and it was then Kanjani8 was considered to have truly become a group even though Ohkura Tadayoshi was added soon after.

They held their first concert in December of 2002, where they began their infamous Kanjani Sentai Eight Ranger skits. In 2003 Ryo and Uchi Hiroki joined the group NEWS for that group’s debut but they still remained active with Kanjani8. In August of 2004 the two debuted for the second time when Kanjani8 had their debut with the song Naniwa Iroha Bushi, which was released only in the Kansai region. The song was considered pop-enka and debuted on the enka chart at number one and when it was later released nationwide debuted at number one on both the enka and general charts. They did not get the usual national exposure though other Johnny’s groups got though.

Even with a good debut single the group suffered from that lack of national exposure and then in 2005 they were hit with a scandal when Uchi Hiroki was caught by police being drunk under aged. Because of his scandal Uchi was taken out of the group but as no other member of this group was caught in a scandal they did not have the hiatus that NEWS had when they had another member caught in an underage drinking scandal soon after.

As they shared two members with NEWS the group had to wait for when Ryo and Uchi were not busy with NEWS to do things with K8. Though because NEWS would perform with only six members they could work around this for the most part at first and then when NEWS had their year long suspension it was not an issue as Ryo was still able to be active with K8. When NEWS came back as a six member group they no longer had the leeway for Ryo to balance out the two groups that left whichever group he was not active with inactive. Near the end of 2011 Ryo announced he would be leaving NEWS because he felt being a member of two groups was becoming too much of a problem for both groups. Since then he is now only a member of Kanjani8 and the issue of scheduling for the two groups has been solved.

But during that year that NEWS was suspended K8 was able to pick up some steam that continued once NEWS came back and they had to go back to sharing Ryo with them. But as things stand now K8 is one of the most popular current Johnny’s groups and have several programs they are regulars on, as either a group or individual members, and more members have had the chance to get roles in dramas.

A couple of things that also set Kanjani8 apart from other Johnny’s groups are their popular skits at concerts, especially the Kanjani Ranger skits, as well as the fact that they also have their members double as a band, with each member, except Yokoyama, having an assigned instrument to play for their band songs.

While the group’s sound at first was pop-enka it has changed over the years to a pop-rock sound, especially once the group began to play as a band. This change was helped by the group switching from Teichiku Records main label to their sub-label Imperal Records as the main label is for enka artists while the Imperal Records sub-label is open to other genres.

Shibutani Subaru is one of the oldest members of the group and tends to have the lead vocals in their songs. He’s known as having the strongest vocals of the group and plays the guitar for when the group does a band song. He also writes a lot of lyrics, something he has done since his Junior days. He does projects with sub-units from time to time and even has a band with Junior band FiVe called Five Flat Flowers he performs concerts with from time to time. His ranger color is red, which for sentai series indicates that he is the leader.

Yokoyama Yu is the oldest member of the group and he’s one of the rare Johnny’s that has a stage name, as he was told that his real name was too difficult to read. In 2010 his mother passed away during a run of solo concerts he was performing at the time. He was rather close to her and when he went to her funeral all the other members of the group went with him. His instrument for their band songs are the bongos, most likely because even he will admit he's not good with instruments, he’s not much of a vocalist either which he also freely admits to. His ranger color is black.

Murakami Shingo, who is known by his nickname Hina, is the third older member of the group that make up the 3 Ossans. He gets his nickname for the fact that when he first joined as a Junior the other Juniors thought he looked like an actress named Hina. He tends to be the MC for the group.In the past couple of years he has been more and more drama roles. His ranger color is purple.

Yasuda Shota is considered the creative one and the one that can do anything. He has written a few songs for the group and stands out from the group with his fashion sense, or lack thereof depending on how you want to look at it. He typically colors his hair blond so he is easy to spot in the group. He is one of the guitarists in the K8 band songs. His ranger color is blue.

Maruyama Ryuhei ended up auditioning twice to join the agency as while he passed his first audition, and even had a magazine shot that day, his paperwork was misplaced so his parents had him audition again, where Johnny Kitagawa recognized him and the error made with his paperwork was discovered. He usually does the “rap” parts in K8 songs. He is the bassist of the group for band songs and his ranger color is orange.

Famous for his poison-tongue Nishikido Ryo for a time was a member of not only Kanjani8 but also of the group NEWS. Because he was in the two groups he has had a lot of exposure and is one of the most popular members of K8. He also has been in dramas, mostly as a co-star, and has gained popularity from that as well. He plays guitar and his ranger color is yellow.

Ohkura Tadayoshi was the last member to join the group and is the youngest. He was originally meant to be in V. West but did not want to join the group because he wanted to keep dancing. He did end up joining V. West anyway when it lost two of its members and he had to fill in as the drummer of the group. He is also the drummer for Kanjani8 for their band songs. He is one of the popular members from his drama roles and has even starred in. His ranger color is green.

From left to right: Murakami Shingo, Ohkura Tadayoshi, Nishikido Ryo,
Maruyama Ryuhei, Shibutani Subaru, Yasuda Shota & Yokoyama Yu

TRIVIA: V. West stood for FiVe West, as they were supposed to be the Kansai version of the Tokyo Junior group, FiVe.

Kanjani8 was the first pop group to perform in all 47 prefectures of Japan.

Kanjani8 have their own manga series which is currently called Ookiini Kanjani8.

Next Entry > Cartoon? KAT-TUN! 

Directory >
Johnny’s Juniors, full of rising stars and heartbreak
The Early and Rocky Path to Fame
Kondo Masahiko: Singer, Dancer, Actor, Professional Race Car Driver
Giving a New Meaning to Playzone, Shounentai
Hikaru Genji, Shining the Brightest and Crashing the Hardest
Otokogumi, Rocking It Old School
The Living Legend of SMAP
TOKIO, From Spaceships to the Over 30s World
Victory, Volleyball, Vegetable, Vicylce? V6
KinKi Kids, It's Not What You Think
Arashi, Storming to the Top
The Inseparable Duo, Tackey & Tsubasa
North, East, West, South ... It's big NEWS
Kansai Underdogs,  Kanjani∞
Cartoon? KAT-TUN!
Jumping to Their Dreams, Hey! Say! JUMP
Johnny's Black Sheep, Akanishi Jin
How to Debut Without Even Trying, Ikuta Toma
Kis-My-Ft2, Everybody Go (Roller Skating)!
Yamashita Tomohisa, Johnny’s Golden Boy
Entering the Sexy Zone
The 5Stars A.B.C-Z
International Ventures
Johnny's and Charity 
Odds & Ends