06 September 2011

A.B.C-xyZ updates and my personal thoughts.

Well there's a bit more information out about the announcement. Johnny Kitagawa himself was at the theater for Shounentachi and made the announcement himself while there. He says that the group could start activities as soon as 2012 and hinted at having them go overseas but he's waiting on Kawai Fumito to fully recover first, as he's still out because of his injury.

Momoedgewood's blog (English)

A quick note before I go to far in, because A.B.C-xyZ is a bit of a pain to type over and over again I'm just to shorten it to A-Z, as I just doesn't seem right to call this new formation the usual A.B.C-Z nickname of Ebi.

I've noticed articles saying that A.B.C-Z is four members but I think I finally figured out why. Since Kawai's out because of his injury they are only counting the current active members.

Also checking out other English language blogs I've found more information from the articles. The group is going to have a V6/HSJ-like set up with there being two divisions based on age. The original A.B.C. will most likely be one, with Hasshi and the two new members being the other. They also will be a unit that can perform as only four members, which is actually something similar to pre-hiatus NEWS where that group often performed as only six members instead of the full eight.

Also Kikuchi is only reported to be a candidate to be a new member but even if he joins the group he'll be in both A.B.C-xyZ and B.I. Shadow. (The cynic in me doesn't see that actually happening for long before he would get pulled out of BIS for A-Z if he is picked and they debut.)

To be perfectly honest I'm still dumbstruck about this news. I know it's just Johnny informing everyone for his plans for the group so it's not set in stone yet, but there's no way something won't come out of this. I think this will be much like his talk of continuing NYC boys in a different fashion and then us getting NYC from that. But this seems to be more out of the blue than that.

And it's not how sudden this announcement came about, Johnny's is all about the surprise announcements after all, but rather that when you look at A.B.C-Z's activities it doesn't make a lot of sense to debut them now. In comparison Hey! Say! JUMP and Kis-My-Ft2 made sense when it came to debuts.

HSJ was the volleyball support group that is created about every four years after the last. The members made sense as they had the original five from Hey! Say! 7 (Yamada, Chinen, Nakajima, Takaki & Arioka) who had just sold a very good number of units of their CD Hey! Say! for a Junior group and proved that they can sell. Bringing Yabu and Hikaru into the group made sense too as they were a couple of the most popular Juniors of the time and I know Inoo had some popularity to back him up he also had a history of being favored as a Junior. Undoubtedly Keito being the son of a Johnny's is what got him into the group. And Ryutaro you can assume was added because he was often placed with Yamada, Chinen and Nakajima and with his age he could help bring the group's age average down so they could do the claim of them being the youngest debut for a boy band.

Kis-My-Ft2 made sense because you can see the slow build to it. Starting with the joint Kis-My-Ft2/A.B.C-Z concert then followed by solo national tours. Members were getting drama roles, performing on Music Station, getting a CM deal and the group were starring in butais instead of just being support in them. By the time Misaki No.1 came around and you had Kitayama and Fujigaya starring in it things looked clear that they had been set up for a debut and it would make less sense if they didn't.

On the other hand A.B.C-Z/A.B.C-xyZ doesn't really have those things backing them up. They have done more butai work, especially with Shounentachi and the Junior concerts they've been producing these past two summers but that's about it. Hashimoto has a bit more promotion as I remember him being on MSte with the other Juniors back in 2009 when they did a performance there. And he's done a few performances on Shounen Club without the rest of the group so it does make a bit of sense for him to debut, as he's received a bit more promotion than the rest of the group. But even so his debut would only make sense if it was with a group of Juniors that have members that have been promoted much more than that. Which then makes Fuma's addition make a little sense but not as much as having a Junior like Nakajima Kento getting added. Both get quite a bit of promotion and have NYC boys, some drama work (especially with Nakaken) so it would make sense for them to debut but to have Fuma debut over Nakaken seems odd. I can't think of any other Junior that has been promoted a lot recently to fill the other spot so I think it's quite up in the air who it will be.

And for those wondering why I'm harping about dramas being a big thing it's because it's one of the big ways that Johnny's uses to grow the fanbase and increase popularity of certain members of a group. While butais and concerts are good and all they stand to be more of a measure of the fanbase of a group or individuals if they are selling goods for individual members. They don't really grow the fanbase so much as who would go to a butai or concert without already being a fan, especially considering the price of a ticket. Dramas and movies are set for the general public and can be used to draw in new fans as people watch them and hopefully get interested in the actors and go out to learn more about them. It's pretty much why you can easily tell who the most popular member of any Johnny's group is by looking at who has done the most drama work for the most part. And it's also why the drama roles, especially for Misaki No.1, were such a telling sign of a debut for Kisumai, as they showed that Johnny's was trying to expand on their fanbase and get them to be better known to the general public. So unless there will be a drama that will star members of this A-Z group soon I will be questioning to why it's being formed and debuted.

Then there's the wording of 'going major'. I don't think I've ever seen it used except for a career debut so I don't think holding on to the hope this will be a one shot debut, like NYC boys, is going to get anyone anywhere. Though Johnny has not always been the most accurate news source, he was the one who said HSB would be the more active division of HSJ as HS7 focused on their studies after all, so until more information comes out Junior fans are bound to be anxious about what it means. I know I am.

Though despite it all I will say that I am happy for the boys who will debut. The original Ebi members have been with Johnny's for so long so there can't be any saying that they haven't worked hard for this. Hasshi has come a long way since he joined the group about three years ago and as I mentioned before I always saw him as a potential debut. I do like Fuma and while I'd rather have him stay with BIS I'll still be happy for him to debut with A-Z and whoever will debut as well I'll be happy for them as well as I don't think there is a Junior I don't like. Though I do hope there will be a Kansai Junior debuting with this group as the most recent Shounen Club episodes show there are plenty of talented Kansai Juniors that should get the chance to debut.

I guess if anything this announcement is proof of how unpredictable the world of Johnny's can be.


Anonymous said...

This is all still so strange and I completely agree with you. ABC-Z doing concerts and stageplays is not enough for them to debut. Aside from Totsu, they are not even on tv that much. There isn't enough time before 2012 to promote them like that unless all this happens later in the year and they begin really pimping them after shounentachi.
When they say it will be a unit that can perform as 4 members..does that just mean ABC? I wonder how they feel about the new additions. The fact that more and more younger boys keep being added must be hard on ABC. It's as if telling them they are not good enough on their own. The whole xy meaning sexy also seems something random he made to try to make it fit. ABC seems to have lost it's original meaning and has just become the alphabet.
I'm actually kind of impatient because I really want to know what's going to happen NOW. Whatever boys do join, I'm sure Hasshi can bridge the gap. I kinda wish for a Top3 revival since the group would be broken up into 2 units, but I don't think Sanada & Nozawa are popular enough yet to help the group with a debut. For some reason at the very least I can see xyz getting a debut out of this. Johnny wouldn't make such an announcement only for nothing to come out of it.

Ani2 said...

I read your two posts about this topic some time ago already but still, I´m speechless.

I really like ABC, they have been Juniors for ages and working so hard for a debut and I know that there are lots of fans out there who want to see them debuting.
But... it´s hard for me to say this but I don´t think they are "handsome" and popular enough for a proper debut >< (really sorry to say this)
I keep on thinking the same like you:
it will turn out that xyZ will be in charge of singing in the front while ABC end up as backdancers.
This would be so sad and unfair towards ABC, wouldn´t it?

I still can´t imagine who those other 2 Juniors will be. Hasshi just became 18 and I´m sure the other 2 must be around the same age. (can´t imagine adding some 13/14 years olds).
Sanada and Nozawa are possible but I don´t think they are popular enough yet.
Then Fuma and Kento: they are "sexy" for me but I believe Johnny will debut them in another group in the nearer future. Also, those two don´t fit the style of Hasshi. Hasshi is more the ballad singer while FumaKento are great in energetic and cool songs.
But there is no one left I can think about. Of course I like the group around Taiga but it´s the same as Nozawa and Sanada, their popularity is not big enough.

I agree with the dramas, Kento is the only one who got pimped a lot since the beginning of the year.
At that time, when he got to appear in two dramas, I thought he will be the one who will deifinitely debut for the Volleyball champs in November.
But seeing Kisumai debuting so late, I don´t think it´s possible anymore.
If ABC-Z won´t play in a drama soon, then it would be really weird.
I want proper news of JE soon, it´s too confusing.

Jackie said...

I feel so bad for Kansai Juniors . They play in Shounentachi with ABC-Z together but Johnny-san only talks about ABC-Z´s debut.
It must be so hard for them because Kansai Jr wish to debut too.

Somehow I´m a bit afraid what Johnny-san has planned for next year. Something must come out of it, I mean he already announced his plans .
It´s a bit annoying that we have to wait to long until clearer informations will come out.

Just somebody said...

Hi, this comment is from an 'outsider' fan I guess since I'm not a hardcore fan of anyone involved... this is just my opinion anyway. ^^

Perhaps this means the members will begin to get more exposure from now to the end of the year. Maybe we can expect something huge to happen that will increase their popularity in preparation to their debut next year.

Just a little something I want to put out there... I've seen a few of these comments cropping up as to how 'ABC-Z feels.' Why should we make our own personal assumptions about their feelings. To them, news of a debut, even if it means new members and a new name, is not necessarily indicative of being undervalued.

Rather, wouldn't they be overjoyed that they've been given this precious opportunity, even if it does seem out of the blue?

Anyway, I don't want to put words in their mouths. I'd like to believe that they have a much more optimistic outlook on this than the fans and most likely, they recieved more explanation than us >_<

The age gap thing is nothing new either and ABC-Z are filled with outgoing and fun members who would get along with anyone. As for their history as Jrs... I actually think they've been climbing up and up butai-wise but you're right, maybe compared to what's happened previously, it's not 'large-scale' enough.

A lot of people react negatively to ideas that opposes familiar tradition but get used to it eventually.

For some reason I have high hopes. Not because I'm a fan. Just a hunch feeling of interest because it's so strange and unpredictable. But I guess this is precisely because I'm not a hardcore fan. Actual fans must feel anxious, I can sympathize.

But I'm going to consider this a step forwards for the members. It's certainly not a step down.

Anonymous said...

I'm probably one of few that's excited to see what happens. People are talking about age gaps and styles but I'm sure the boys are capable of adapting to one another and coming together as one. I'm sure this isn't the first time that jrs with an age gap and different styles have come together. As with alot of debuts, there will be many people who are upset at first but eventually the majority gets over it and learns to accept and even like the group.

Karina said...

I agree with the Anonymous post just above. Ok, I admit at first I felt negative but in the end we can´t do anything about it.
It´s too early to say but with any kind of constellation, I will support those guys.
When HSJ was formed I was also sad at first and angry, but now I love this groups as it it!
And Johnny isn´t dump, he knows what he is doing so if he thinks that this group will debut next and will be successful, then it might become so.
Though I always believed the next debut would be for Volleyball cup and some younger Juniors, but Johnny never fails to surprise us.

Thennary Nak said...

@ Anonymous #1

All I can think of is that Johnny for some reason has decided to forgo the huge debut for the unit and will try for something else. I mean both SMAP and K8 didn't have big starts but in the end they're two of the most successful Johnny's groups.

I wondered if the four unit would be A.B.C. doing something like a stage play on their own while the others did something else. But I guess we'll see as these are just plans of right now and nothing more.

I don't think A.B.C. is going to be too heartbroken about having new members added. Their dream was to debut together and if plans go through they will have achieved it. And they've gone through additions in the past as a Junior group (like Toshin, Shoon & Hashimoto) so it's nothing new and they seemed to have no trouble including Hashimoto into the group.

It's rather frustrating not knowing what's going to happen with this but I do wish success as like I said there isn't a Junior I dislike so I won't hold any grudges no matter who debuts.

@ Ani2

I've been thinking about the role of Ebi in the group and while I do see them mainly being in the back I don't think it'll have to be a bad thing. They have a lot of experience with dance and performances, they did produce those Junior concerts, so I could see them actually having a bit of control with the group about such things. They may not be seen as the 'faces' of the group but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be important as the younger members are sure to look up to them because of that experience. Also nothing is certain right now so who knows how it will play out.

I'm sure Johnny's will figure out how to make everything work with the new members. If you look at groups like NEWS and HSJ their members are all over teh place with their singing skills but they manage to work together.

If there isn't any big promotion then it could mean Johnny's is going to buck their trend and go for a smaller debut than normal, which may be the way to go after a big debut like Kisumai.

@ Jackie

Well there's still an open slot so there's no saying that a Kansai Junior couldn't fill it. Though personally my wish would be for 7WEST to debut as a group next as they really won me over with the first SC episode of this month.

Johnny is the troll of the idol world and just proves it every time he makes an announcement like this and then just leaves everyone hanging. I guess it does help make Johnny's an exciting fandom to be in.

Thennary Nak said...

@ Just somebody

I do confess my early reactions are partly because I was just so shocked and partly because I have been following Johnny's for over 4 years now so I know for every good there tends to be a bad.

I'm quite certain they are happy at the chance to debut, as that is the goal of most of the Juniors. And A.B.C. have said for a long time that they wanted to debut together which they'll be able to do if it all pans out.

Some of the negativity seems to come from the fact that Fuma is being included and that's making BIS fans unhappy as they don't want to lose yet another member of that group. But in the end there's only so much a fan can do and it's not like these plans have been finalized yet so the future for this group is wide open.

@ Anonymous #2

I think a lot of it is the fact this does just seem so sudden so people aren't sure what to think. And honestly a lot of the comments tend to remind of what people were saying when HSJ debuted so if this group goes through then in time people will just have to get used to it. Though I think some of it is that Fuma has been connected to this new group and BIS fans aren't happy with that. But if I've learned anything from being in fandom it's that being a Junior fan means heartbreak.

@ Karina

After the initial shock has worn off I'm also not feeling as negative. I'm mainly just confused as I am trying to make sense of this from the patterns of debuts from past group and I'm not really finding much. But then again SMAP really only had the fact that they were Hikaru Genji's back dancers going for them and while they started off rough they certainly rose high in the end.