08 October 2011

A Never Ending Wonderful Story

These past couple of years I have been going through old Shounen Club episodes to see if I couldn't find patterns in them to figure out who would debut in the next volleyball unit. One thing that caught my attention was looking at the episodes right before NEWS had their debut, specifically the October episodes which were taped before NEWS' formation was announced. All of a sudden Masuda Takahisa was taken out of the back dancers and a new Junior, Tegoshi Yuya. Another thing that I couldn't overlook was the performances with the three Ks of K.K.Kity (Koyama Keiichiro, Kato Shigeaki & Kusano Hironori) as they sung two songs, one with Massu, Tegoshi and Ya-Ya-Yah, that sounded much too familiar to me, Peace no Sign and Stand Up. This Stand Up was sung all in English but there was no doubt it is the same song, that also has the same title, that would be the B-side of NEWS' official debut Kibou ~Yell~. Peace no Sign is simply NEWS Nippon under a different name. I challenge anyone to convince me otherwise after you give it a listen.

Noticing these things it made it clear to me that Massu, Tegoshi, Koyama, Shige and Kusano by then had been selected for the group or at least on the short list for it. It's also why I'm not surprised at all that the members of Sexy Zone knew their debut song before they knew they were debuting.

Then looking at early NEWS one thing that is noticeable is how rare it was that all eight members performed together. Searching for more information about them when I was getting into the group I came upon a statement that the group was to work in a way that there only had to be six members present for them to do a group performance, which would allow members flexibility, something that was needed for Nishikido Ryo and Uchi Hiroki as they debuted with Kanjani8 later.

This changed though with the scandals that brought the total member number down to six. After they finally made their comeback that flexibility was lost as they only had six in total and that looked like that was going to be the final line up for the group.

It was after Hoshi wo Mezashite that I became a NEWS fan and being so close to the groups return I quickly became familiar with their past and the missing members of the group. But I mainly saw the group as six as watching their concert DVD for their comeback Never Ending Wonderful Story pretty much sealed that formation in my mind. (It also got me interested in the little kid dancers in it and even more so when three of them would be part of the Junior group Hey! Say! 7.) I fell in love with six member NEWS and while I could not ignore the signs that the group may not last in the past couple of years I knew I would be heartbroken if they did break up.

I think I feel like I cannot only understand why Ryo is leaving now but also feel okay about it. He has been with Kanjani8 longer than NEWS and like most Kansai Juniors and group members seems much more at ease with the others from the Kansai branch. Also K8 was not nearly as active during their earlier years as they are now so I think it's perfectly reasonable that he really did not have to choose between the two until recent years when K8's popularity took off and they got much more work. The fact he chose K8 over NEWS is pretty obvious all things considered. It also helps that his comments about the break up made this news easier to take from saying he felt guilty about the problems his being in both groups caused them both and that he took the effort to address the remaining members by name when he wished them luck as they continue on as four. It's a little thing but it's those little things that make a big difference sometimes and this felt like one of those times. Especially after having come after a disappointing comment before.

Like a good deal of the fandom I've seen I'm less than thrilled and impressed with Yamapi at the moment. If I look at it in a purely business sense his leaving to go solo does make sense as he has done well solo. If he stays in Asia and continues on as he has I'm sure he'll do fine, I can't see him really being able to do much anywhere else in the world but I guess that may not mean he won't try. But emotionally as a fan I can't help myself from being angry at him. And it's not just that he's leaving after repeatedly telling fans not to worry that he won't be leaving the group. His comment about leaving was essentially all about him, about his big achievement of being in the group, his want to go solo, and him now being a rival to the "other five guys". Even if I gave him the benefit of the doubt and believe that he may not have meant for his comments to sound like he only cares about himself it doesn't make the sting of those words lessen for me. I know he was the most popular member of the group and with him gone NEWS will suffer a big blow to popularity and sales but I'm beginning to think the group is better off without him if that's his attitude. He was supposed to be the leader of the group and he's letting them down like this? Not to mention the fans who believed his words when he said he wouldn't be leaving. I lost quite a bit of respect for him over this honestly and I was wondering if I wanted to continue supporting his solo work before this news came about but this has made up my mind about that.

For the remaining four I still have nothing but love for. They have been my favorites for the group for years now and it actually makes me glad they will continue on together. The other day I read the recent Photoshigenic (the special page Shige has in the Wink Up magazine) where he had Koyama, Tegoshi and Masuda over at his place after they had gone drinking at a bar together. It made me smile as Koyama and Tegoshi of course just made themselves completely at home much to Shige's dismay as well as seeing that these four were so close. It's this kind of thing that gives me hope that these four will be able to carry on just fine together. Their bond is close and I'm sure this will only strengthen it. Koyama has probably been more of a group leader for NEWS for a while from what I've noticed anyway and who knows, they might actually get solos on their albums for a change instead of just Yamapi and Ryo. And I can see Tegomass becoming a sub-unit kinda like Hey! Say! 7 and Hey! Say! BEST are and maybe we'll get an officially formed Koyashige to go with them now.

Yet there's a heaviness when I look at the group profile page on Johnny's net and see it's already taken Yamapi and Ryo off of it and no longer has a group picture. I don't think you can get much more official than that, and a part of me wishes if they were going to do that they would have put up new pictures for the remaining four instead of keeping the ones from Fighting Man up. It just seems more painful to see them wearing the clothes they had for what is bound to be the final single of them as a six member unit. It will be a great relief to hear about a new single for the new NEWS and have those images change and get a new group photo on that page. I think it will be then that this new chapter in the group's story will really begin.

For now though I don't think I can get myself to listen to a NEWS song without crying though. As much as I want to move on it's still hard to let go. Though watching that Peace no Sign performance actually helps as it makes this feel like it's coming full circle in a way. Sure they've lost Kusano but the other four that went on to become NEWS are still there and it feels like they were the first members of this group and the rest were added on later so losing them just means they are going back to how they were from the start. It may not be the most logical way to look at it but it eases my mind and gives me even more hope for the future of this group despite the odds.

I just can't give up on NEWS. They mean so much to me as they were the ones that introduced me to Johnny's, something that has become a passion of mine. This blog's title comes from me simply merging two to the titles of the two releases of the two Johnny's groups that meant so much to me when I became a Johnny's fan, NEWS' Never Ending Wonderful Story and Hey! Say! JUMP's Ultra Music Power. So while there are other groups that I also like those two hold a sentimental value to me that the others just don't have. Losing either of them I feel like as if I would lose something special that no other group could replace because they can't be the first group I fell in love with or the first group that debuted that I was around for and could follow from the moment they were announced, not to mention had so many of my favorite Juniors in. As a fan I can only hope that NEWS keeps aiming for stars and cherish them for it.


Anonymous said...

NewS were one of the first JE groups I really liked, and although I haven't paid attention to them in years, it was still shocking to know that they would be losing even more members. This group has seemed to have it hard from the beginning with losing members. To go from 9 to 4 just seems so strange. I wish them all the best and hopefully the remaining four won't have to disband.

There seems to be a rise over the past few years with members leaving their groups, not just because of scandals, but as their own personal decision. It makes me wonder if JE should be more careful with deciding who will be thrown in a group and how old they are. There definitely shouldn't be any more kids being in two debuted groups at once. If it didn't work for Ryo I don't see how it could work for anyone else. Then again maybe none of this matters to them and they'll continue to do it.

Oh btw, you wrote Kusano Noriyuki instead of Kusano Hironori.

Chris said...

I´ve never been a NEWS fan but still, I felt sad about it.
Fans waited so long for a new release and then the News come that the Yamapi and ryo withdraw.Some may have seen it coming, some may always hoped that the group will continue as one.
I only can imagine how hurt NEWS fans must have felt or still feel....
But since Yamapi and Ryo aren´t there anymore, maybe it´s THE chance for the other 4 to finally take more of the spotlight and to get more attention.
Somehow this group experienced so many member-leavings.. I hope JE takes an example on Ryo and notice that it´s really hard for an idol to be in two groups.
I know this is not relevant now, but thinking that Kento and Fuma might also become members of ABC-xyZ as well, I don´t know if this is a good idea.

Well, I´m wondering when we´ll get to hear the announcement of a single for 4-member NEWS. Tegoshi and Massu still have Tegomass but I wish Koyama and Shige could become active in singing again.
It will be interesting to see if they can be successful with 4 members only as well. I wish them all the best and of course to Yamapi and Ryo as well.

Thennary Nak said...

@ Anonymous

I don't think Johnny's will change much who they debut or not. This really is nothing new to Johnny's but unlike the earlier years groups are at least continuing on after losing members and those who leave remain with the agency.

Though I do think they will rethink having a member in two groups because of Ryo. It worked when they didn't need all members of the group to do performances during those first few years but after NEWS settled to being six and Kanjani8 rose in popularity there just were too many problems with that set up.

Thank you for the correction. I've gotten so terrible with names recently for some reason.

@ Chris

Thank you for the sympathy. I don't think there's a group that hasn't had hard times like this if from scandals or like this with members leaving.

I too wonder if this just might be the chance for the others to really shine. Time will only tell but at least there's a lot more hope in them actually getting their solo songs on any future albums.

I think with Sexy Zone both Fuma and Nakaken are no longer candidates for A.B.C-xyZ. Like you said it didn't work with Ryo and even NYC doesn't quite work though is better as Yuma isn't part of another group releasing CDs. And I really don't believe Johnny's when they say Fuma and Nakaken will still be in B.I.Shadow as it will most likely be like Massu in Kis-My-Ft, rarely there and the group got merged with another to create a new one without him in it.

I'm hoping that once the current Tegomass promotions wrap up they'll move on to do something with NEWS. I'll personally love for Koyashige to become a true NEWS sub-unit even if their songs will only be on albums or as B-side tracks but I think that would help even things out with Tegomass music wise.

Anonymous said...

I feel for you. <3 Hey!Say!JUMP and NEWS are my 2 favorite Johnny's groups as well and while NEWS isn't as special to me as HSJ is, they still hold a dear place in my heart because of all those clips I watched from the Yax3 show that featured TegoMass, and K.K.Kitty. I guess I have Ya-Ya-Yah to thank for introducing me to those Juniors that would become NEWS and HSJ.

I was never really close to the NEWS fandom, but I feel that after this big blow, I feel closer to the fandom than ever. Mostly because I feel sorry for the fans and the 4 remaining members. It does make me smile knowing how close the 4 members are with one another, so that helps a lot. I know it's bad for me to say this, but I kinda hope that Yamapi will fail and the new NEWS will soar high.