Like I mentioned in the previous posts I decided to wait to better form my thoughts before doing a knee-jerk reaction to this news. There hasn't been really anything new that's come out though a bit more information has come out, like the single will have the same name as the group and apparently the group performed it at the show, which honestly isn't surprising to me as it wouldn't be the first time Johnny's has had at least members of an upcoming group learn a debut song before they knew they would be debuting. In any case I've written down a lot of my thoughts about the matter, some about my own initial thoughts and then reactions to some of the other reactions I've seen from other Johnny's fans and here they are.
So it's 2011 and as I had been predicting for years we are indeed getting a new volleyball unit debut. For those who may be new to Johnny’s a volleyball debut means a new unit created to be special supporters for the annual FIVB World Volleyball Tournament. Ever since V6 debuted in 1995 every four years Johnny’s has debuted a new unit, consisting of Juniors from various Junior groups and some ungrouped. As mentioned V6 was the first in 1995, 1999 had Arashi, 2003 was NEWS and in 2007 we got Hey! Say! JUMP. It didn’t take me long at all after seeing the pattern to assume that 2011 we’d get the next group. In fact the only reason I began to doubt it was because of the March 11th disaster this year and how it had thrown quite a bit off so I could see this group being passed on for the year and be formed next year instead. I guess Johnny’s felt they could still continue on with their plans and so here we are with Sexy Zone for 2011.
About the group itself:
First off I don't think this is a temporary unit thing. Yes, NYC boys was treated to be the next group debut but it also was a group with two members that were already in a debuted group and we still have NYC from it. And if you read the articles it is mentioned this is the second group debut of the year with Kis-My-Ft2 which leads to idea that this will be another group like Kis-My-Ft2, one here to stay as there have been years a temporary unit and a career debut unit have debuted and no mention like that is brought up. Also in the original Oricon article it places Sexy Zone with the other previous volleyball units, from V6-HSJ, and as none of those have ended up being temporary I can't see SZ all of a sudden being something different.
I am surprised that we are getting such a small group for a debut this time. Both NEWS and HSJ started off as large groups. Perhaps the fact that both have lost members Johnny’s decided that going back to a five member unit like Arashi might be the better way to go, especially if they were going to have such young members. And even though it means there are plenty of Juniors that had to be passed up for debut this time around it is nice to have a smaller group for a change. It will be easier to make sure all five members get a decent amount of screen time for performances and PVs though I can see things being Nakajima Kento and Kikuchi Fuma heavy at first as they are the most popular members of the group right now.
And yes, I have issues with the group name, or at least half of it. I really don’t like the word Sexy as much as Johnny’s does. And like I’ve mentioned before it’s not so much because of the ages of the group members, because at least the older two have been growing into their looks just within the past year and are hitting that stage that the word is fitting of them, but because it just sounds ridiculous to me no matter what the age of the group may be. Maybe because I don’t use the word to describe those I find attractive (I prefer handsome, hot and good looking) it feels a bit unnatural to me. I guess my definition of the word is narrow and I really can see it being used when someone is trying to show their sex appeal, but considering that volleyball units, especially in the first few years, have the cute and youthful image placed on them I can’t see the two images really meshing. It is at least a step up from Sexy Boy though and perhaps when all the members are older it’ll be a better fit for the group but for now it’s just awkward with their current ages.
A curious thing about their name is if you look at the Johnny’s net page it has the announcement for the group on it and the ‘xy’ in Sexy is colored red. I’m curious what that’s about and I’m sure when the group has to go on all the morning shows and music programs it will be something they will explain each time they do, much like how they’ll bring up Marius’ age and whatever thing about the group Johnny’s wants to promote to set them apart from their other groups.
As for the members:
Well Nakajima Kento is a no brainer, IMHO. He just had that special something the moment he was put on stage on SC and with getting drama roles since then he’s easily the most popular member of the group. I’ve had him high on my list of Juniors that will most likely debut for some time now so this was expected.
Kikuchi Fuma doesn’t surprise me either as he’s been paired off with Nakaken so much lately so it makes sense where Nakaken went Fuma would follow. Not nearly as big of a fan of Fuma as I am Nakaken but I’m still glad that more than one member of B.I. Shadow debuted. I think if Fuma stops overdoing it with trying to look sexy we would actually manage to achieve being so but I think he fits the group’s name
Honestly I felt I would not be surprised to have Sato Shori debut in a volleyball unit this soon if 2011 got one as there is usually at least one newer Junior added to a volleyball unit and if you have a 14 year old that shows that he can have stage presence then he’s the kind of member you want in a young idol group.
I don’t know much about Matsushima Sou other than being a part of the group that was around Shori for magazine photos and performances.
Though I do know a bit more about Marius as a lot of fans mention that he’s adorable when messing up his Japanese, he’s half-German and has lived in both Japan and Germany. One thing I do like about him immediately is that he’s the only Junior that has debuted that I know of that isn’t 100% Japanese. The fact that Johnny’s has had mixed race Juniors for a long time but not a single one had ever debuted had bothered me a bit but with Marius’ debut at least it proves that even those boys do actually have a chance to debut just like the other Juniors.
And while the age range is pretty big that’s nothing new to Johnny’s groups and I can foresee that Nakaken and Fuma will probably stick together and the other three do the same at first until they get older and levels of maturity are closer in range unless the older two are like HSJ’s Takaki Yuya and have the eternal heart and mind of a child.
About various reactions I’ve come across:
I have to say the ones I'm most disappointed in are the angry Kis-My-Ft2 fans. The group has had their debut and I don't feel that there is any good reason to be mad at a new group debuting after them, especially since they are groups that are mean to appeal to two very different audiences.
I've heard Kisumai fans complain about how the new group is stealing away Kisumai's "moment" because the debut is so close to theirs. I wonder how may remember that Kisumai were meant to debut back in June but because of the earthquake and tsunami their debut was delayed. I’m sure Johnny’s would have loved to have debuted Kisumai in the first half of the year instead of when they did but even they can’t do anything about natural disasters and a massive debut like Kisumai’s so soon after a disaster would be ill-timed. And while we and the members of the group may only now be learning of the debut I'm sure there were plans for it made long before so it wouldn't make sense for Johnny's to throw all that out because they had to delay Kisumai's debut.
Also for any just griping about how long it took Kisumai to debut and how young and new to the agency members of SZ are, honestly this is nothing new. This is pretty much what KAT-TUN fans had to go through when their group got passed up for NEWS to debut so it’s hardly a new thing and Kisumai and KAT-TUN actually debuted together as a group unlike the members of the volleyball units who have had their Junior groups broken up to debut a few of the members. Kisumai fans could all be happy when they debuted but I’m sure there are plenty of heartbroken B.I. Shadow fans that can’t be happy because only two of the four members of their group have debuted.
Plus the sales Kisumai have with their debut single are far beyond what SZ will have with theirs and they are going for very different audiences so they can both be popular at the same time as there actually will be very little in the way of fan overlap between the two groups because of the age gap and very different group images.
Speaking of B.I. Shadow they lived up to my prediction I made a long time ago when they became a four member unit, they would be the next Ya-Ya-Yah. And when I said that I meant that they would be the popular young Junior group that would be broken up by a volleyball debut and it now has all come to pass. It’s sad that only two of the members got to debut but at the same time the group members are younger than Yax3 so I have hope that Koichi Yugo and Matsumura Hokuto will stay on as Juniors and hopefully maybe get a new group as I would hate to see them leave.
And I know there’s a lot about this that is unfair but honestly Johnny’s has never been fair. It sucks but that’s sadly life. The best fans can do is hope the ones they are a fan of find success and if they were passed up for debut it doesn’t mean it’s the end. And yes I do think there are plenty of other “deserving” Juniors out there that I would love to see debut but it’s one of those things you have to come to terms with as a Junior fan, all Juniors won’t debut. Johnny’s can only debut so many groups and those groups can only have so many members so there will be talented and hardworking Juniors that will be passed up for debut for whatever reason. It’s sad but there’s no getting around that truth.
But just because a Junior is passed up for debut once doesn’t mean it has to be the end. I mean look at Kisumai’s Yokoo Wataru, he was a member of K.K.Kity that was one of the groups broken up for NEWS’ debut and then he ended up in Kis-My-Ft2 and achieved debut with them. Or look at Ikuta Toma who has a special recognition from Johnny’s so he’s treated as a debuted member of the agency even though he’s never had a CD debut. So for the young Juniors there are still plenty of chances and for the older Juniors there are other avenues they can take for success with Johnny’s so it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom for them. Especially A.B.C-Z who are getting their own solo concerts in a couple of months and will be one of the few Junior groups still around after this debut so should get a good amount of attention on Shounen Club for that.
My thoughts about the other Juniors & such:
One of the most disappointing things I feel about those looked over is that this is yet another group without a single Kansai Junior in it. I know Nakayama Yuma has gotten his fair share of debuts, though it would be nicer still if he wasn’t still a Junior after them all, but there are a lot of other talented Kansai Juniors that should get a shot at debuting. The last group to have debuted with Kansai Juniors was Kanjani8 in 2004. If they aren’t going to be mixed with Kanto Juniors for a new unit debut I hope they’re planning on debuting another Kansai Junior only unit like they did with Kanjani8. I mean the kind of success K8 has achieved should be a good indication that they should also be thinking about debuting Kansai Juniors, with emphasis on that ‘s’ on the end of Juniors. Also it would be nice to know what Yuma’s status actually is at some point.
And speaking of the A.B.C-xyZ planned debut I can’t help but think that perhaps the reason it was announced so far ahead was because of this upcoming debut. Maybe as a way to let Johnny’s fans know that even if they were going for young Juniors for this volleyball unit there was still a chance some of the older Juniors still had a chance for debuting with a unit. Not to mention by saying that Fuma was a candidate it at least let B.I. Shadow fans know in advance that the group may not have much longer to go. But it makes me want November to come faster so we can figure out what's going on with that group, and I hope they do manage that debut in the end sometime next year.
Something else I’ve been reading a lot are people complaining about how young these members are. Honestly those bring a sense of dejavu as that’s one of the main complaints people had with HSJ when they debuted. But honestly I think people need to look at new Japanese idol groups as SZ’s ages aren’t much younger, in fact compared to some groups their average age would be older, to see that this isn’t beyond the norm. Especially with Johnny’s if you look at some of their one shot groups like Snow Prince Gasshoudan which had members around 8 and 9 years old.
One thing that can be looked forward to though is for the HSJ fans who were unhappy with how “childish” Magic Power was. With a new unit to take over the youthful and cute image from them now HSJ can go back to moving towards more mature sounding songs like OVER and Arigato. It’s pretty much what happened with NEWS when HSJ came around so it should happen with HSJ now that there’s SZ.
So like all volleyball unit debuts this one is a mixed bag for fans. I will confess not being as excited for this debut as I was for HSJ and Kisumai’s debut announcements, which is partly because both of those groups had my top favorite members debuting. SZ though has Juniors that I like and I can see myself being a fan of but it’ll take longer to warm up to them, even though it’s going to be hard to say the name with a straight face for some time for me. But it won’t stop me from picking up their CDs and if I’d have to guess their debut single will probably come out the week of November 16th as Arashi will be releasing on the 2nd and SKE48 are releasing on the 9th and they could potentially be too much competition for the group to take on seeing as their last single has sold over 450K which is more than Kisumai has sold.