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.