This year I am sticking with the groups that I am actively following. For the most part this is just my speculation as a fan.
TOKIO, will release something? Maybe? Honestly TOKIO has gained a very erratic schedule when it comes to releases it makes it extremely difficult to predict when the next will be. They are long and well overdue for a new album but I am not sure if I should even still expect one from them any time soon and not just another single. But I do hope they release something before the close of the year, and album would be great but I would settle for another single if I must.
NEWS have their best of album already slated to release and still have the single and concerts already announced. I think that will be the summer for them, most likely sometime in July as August looks like it will likely be full of AKS releases and NEWS does have a number 1 streak to protect. I hope they can start releasing singles at a steady pace once this comeback single comes out. I would be happy if they at least release one more single before the end of the year.
It would be nice if one of the members gets some kind of drama role during the second half of the year as well. It would be nice to see that kind of push for the group after the recent member change. Though I guess at least Tegoshi Yuya, Kato Shigeaki and Koyama Keiichiro have regular programs they are a part of to help with TV exposure.
Kanjani8 will continue to release singles at a steady pace until it is time to release a new album for their annual winter concert tour. Though I expect there being something special being done for their next album as they are making this year their big anniversary year being their 8th year since debut. I know they just announced the special thank you concerts for their 8th anniversary but I still think they will stick to their usual schedule as well, as someone has to be at the Kyocera Dome for Johnny’s Count Down and I really cannot see anyone but K8 doing that.
They seem to be having a packed year with work and I doubt it will change. Already two members have been announced as leads for summer dramas and I am sure the fall season will continue with Kanjani8 members in dramas. Then of course there is their movie, even though they are done filming for it their will still be plenty of promotion they will be doing.
As sad as I was to see Nishikido Ryo leave NEWS to only be with K8 I cannot help but think it was the right decision. K8 easily took priority for him and we would most likely be looking at another year with almost no NEWS presence if he remained with them.
Hey! Say! JUMP should have at least a couple more singles to be released this year. I think one in the fall and another in winter would be good. It will be interesting to see if the tour in the winter this year or become a group that only tours when they have a new album like the older Johnny’s groups. Summary has already moved on to newer groups (Sexy Zone and A.B.C-Z) so I can see them slowing down with touring as well to complete the transition from being the younger/newer group to one of the more seasoned ones.
I think Johnny’s needs to keep HSJ members in dramas, and now that Yamada Ryosuke is older he can do more roles and I would like to see him starring in something else before the end of the year. It is an interesting move to have Chinen Yuri star in a drama, but I guess this will prove if he can be a lead drama actor like Yamada, something I am sure Johnny's would love.
I think they will try to do something for their fifth anniversary this year. It may not be anything really major but I am sure they would want to do something. It is a landmark that is worth recognizing in some way. But maybe with K8 taking up so much of the year with their anniversary HSJ is waiting for their actual anniversary date to begin doing something for it.
Kis-My-Ft2 should release two more singles before the year is up. They are one of Avex’ best selling acts so I am sure they will want them releasing as much as possible. I can actually see them being one of the few groups to release a single in August as they are one of the better selling Johnny’s groups and I think they could easily beat the AKS group releasing a single on August 1st, NO NAME. And since they will most likely be doing the theme song for Fujigaya Taisuke’s summer drama I think that would be a good release date for their next single.
I do not think a drama season will go by without a member having a role in a drama, even if the chances of that member not being Fujigaya Taisuke or Tamamori Yuta is slim. But I think Fujigaya moving into the leading man slot is a big thing, and hopefully his drama, Beginners, does well so he continue as the lead in dramas. I do hope though one of the other members get a chance for at least a supporting role in a drama before the end of the year. It will be nice to see them get these small pushes that will hopefully lead to bigger things with them.
Sexy Zone should have a new single coming up. I think one for the summer would work, and it would fit with the release patterns of prior FIVB groups. But they do already have their Olympic volleyball support song and with the Olympics beginning in July there is a chance it could mean a new single for them around that time. With any luck they will also get one more single after that before the end of the year. While they have the concerts in the summer I see them doing another one in the winter as well and taking the place of HSJ with doing tours that correspond with the longer school holidays.
They seem to be pairing up with A.B.C-Z a bit, which is no surprise as they are both on the same music label and debuted around the same time. I see this as a positive for both groups, as SZ can learn from being around one of the strongest performance groups Johnny’s has and A.B.C-Z can get some more exposure with being tied to a group that is getting strong pushes from the agency. Though between the two groups I can see SZ inheriting Summary as their summer concert series, much like HSJ inherited from NEWS who was the only group to headline both of the original Summary concerts.
With all the pushes this group has had I see the members having a good chance of continuing to get drama roles throughout the year, but as supporting roles as I do not think any have really had a break out role that could signal they could be potential headliners for a drama series. I do hope Nakajima Kento gets a role like that soon though, he seemed wasted on Kazuko no Uta and he has always shown potential to be a strong actor, he just never seems to get the right part to really prove it.
For the Juniors I can see them slowly getting back to being a larger focus on Shounen Club. Kis-My-Ft2 has already moved on to being just guests and were not in May or June’s episodes so that should free up some time that can be given to Juniors. I think this would be a perfect time to push the Bakaleya6 as a group.
Also with the recent drama roles those Juniors should be getting some kind of push on the program. I would not be surprised to see more drama roles given to Juniors later in the year either. With the recent debuts now is a good time for Johnny’s to push some of the remaining Juniors to find the next big hits among them. This can be seen with the recent announcements of Juniors getting drama roles in the upcoming drama season.
The rest of the year should be interesting for Junior fans as things continue to shift for them as Johnny's searches for their next big hits and sets them up for possible future debuts.
And I expect the Kansai Juniors to continue to keep gong strong. I think it is a good sign that they are being brought to Tokyo more and more for work and I expect it to eventually lead to something for them.
NMB48 are most likely going to release two more singles this year, the next one has even already been confirmed for an August 8th release date. We will probably also get auditions for their fourth gen KKS announced but wait until after New Year’s to have their next team, Team BII, formed.
It will be interesting to see if the AKB48 sister groups also add extra groups to them, like AKB48’s Team 4, but that will be years down the line I would suppose and SKE48 will be the group that does it next.
I do wonder if NMB48 will get an album release. The AKS groups do not release CDs like most artists, with that they mainly just release singles. AKB48's first non-stage album was a single collection after all. But then they did release a studio album so it will be interesting to see if NMB48 will just continue with singles or will have a studio album of their own this year. Of course we could just get a stage album whenever they finally get around to doing their original stage.
I would not be surprised if there is another graduation this year, as sad as it would be. But when you have a group as big as NMB48 I think having a high turnover rate is to be expected, from health issues, like the girls that have graduated after making it into a team or for other reasons like the KKS graduations.
It is hard to tell what will happen next with ZONE. They have only just started back up in earnest with this month’s new release. I do hope they at least get one more single out for the year at least. It would be great if they start releasing on a more regular basis, but even with their return they seem to still be focusing on helping with relief efforts for Tohoku region so I have no problem waiting as it is more important for that region to continue getting the help it needs to rebuild over idols releasing CDs.