While searching for information for my History of Johnny’s every once in a while I come across something not exactly related to what I’m researching but is interesting none the less. One such thing was a blog entry that proposes that Johnny’s creates new groups based on two different models, a Junior group becomes popular enough or to replace a group that has either broken up or in more recent cases are no longer featured as a group in the idol magazines because a member has passed the 30 years old mark. Of course there are a few that fall in either but when you look at most Johnny’s groups they fit these two models.
The popular as a Junior route has pretty much started when Juniors began to appear more and more on TV programs. Kondo Masahiko is one of the earlier examples of this as well as groups like Shounentai, Kinki Kids, KAT-TUN, Kis-My-Ft2 and even A.B.C-Z fall into this.
Replacement can probably be traced back to the very start of Johnny’s when the original group for the agency, Johnny’s, broke up to be replaced by another four member group Four Leaves. Looking at groups that are still active there are some interesting things to note to back up this theory that Johnny’s creates new groups to replace old ones. V6 is a good example as they debuted the year Hikaru Genji finally came to its complete end with Hikaru Genji Super 5 disbanding. Hikaru Genji was known for the age gap for its members and having two sub units in the group and V6 debuted with an age gap and having two sub units. When Otokogumi officially disbanded TOKIO was debuted the same year, filling the role of the band group.
This replacement can even be seen recently as well with Sexy Zone being a five member group debuting only about a year after Arashi stopped being featured in the idol magazines. Whether or not SZ will ever be able to achieve something close to the level of success Arashi has remains to be seen, but there is a feeling that Johnny’s is trying to see if another smaller group will be able to be as successful after trying out larger groups for a while.
Of course not all groups are created in this manner and just because one kind of group is no longer in the magazines means another will definitely fill their place. The fact that TOKIO has been the last band group to debut is a good example of this. But that can probably be chalked up to the fact that TOKIO has not had the success that other groups have had, even though they have had their share of hits and are popular on variety shows. And because of that I do not think we will be seeing a new duo being debuted any time in the near future even though Tackey & Tsubasa graduated from the magazines this year.
I would say the next replacement group would be a new Kansai group about a year or so once Kanjani8 graduate from the magazines. As K8 has definitely proven to be a successful group despite starting far from the top and their popularity seems pretty securely in place. So I am sure Johnny’s will try to see if they cannot find that kind of success with a new Kansai group.
I honestly think this is a pretty valid theory though it be interesting to see if I am right on predicting a Kansai group debut in the next couple of years basing it on this.