As I have been watching Shounen Club I have been trying to figure out how to categorize the Juniors in a way that would make it easy to talk about a certain period of time in a quick way. With the Golden Age of Juniors (the time Tackey & Tsubasa and Arashi were Juniors) it makes sense for me to try to do this with eras based on when members of debuted groups were Juniors. Of course there is some overlapping with certain members or groups but I think for the most part it works. As I am most knowledgeable about the Juniors from Shounen Club I will use the status of the Juniors from when that show began and then onward.
Of course then it would begin with the Golden Age of Juniors, which as stated before is the time period when the members of Arashi and Tackey & Tsubasa were Juniors. It can be considered officially over when T&T debuted in 2002 though it was already on the decline as a new era was starting up that would focus on mostly the young Juniors (Four Tops & KAT-TUN for example) of that time.
That era would be what I would term the You&J era, basing the name off the combined fan club of the groups that were the stars of the era, NEWS, Kanjani8 and KAT-TUN. While the official start would be at T&T’s debut it could be argued to have begun more around the time that Shounen Club began to air seeing as the main Juniors of that program belong to this era. In either case the end of the era would be about time of KAT-TUN’s debut in 2005.
Then it moves on to the Hey! Say! era, which is the rise of the Juniors that will eventually debut as Hey! Say! JUMP as well as the rise of groups like Kis-My-Ft2 and A.B.C. (later A.B.C-Z) who were carry overs from the You&J era. I would honestly put the end of this era around the time Kisumai debuted, even though there was some continuation of it with A.B.C-Z’s debut and that would be the final segment of the era.
Overlapping the end of the Hey! Say! era would be the current era of Juniors that probably began more around the creation of JaPAnese Hi! Though the official start is probably easier to peg as the debut of Sexy Zone. I would not name this era yet until the next begins as no one knows what groups are going to debut and have an impact, plus it is more about the rise of groups/Juniors so there is still so much that can happen. So until it ends it is simply the current era of Juniors.
Of course as you can see these eras do not start and stop as one era ends and another begins. There is a good deal of overlap but I think if you sort by when groups rise to prominence it makes sense to do it this way. Like with Kisumai, they were a group created during the end of the You&J era but really did not rise until the Hey! Say! era which lead to their debut. And then with A.B.C-Z you have another group with roots in You&J but they did not become A.B.C-Z until after HSJ debuted and I would not place them in the current era of Juniors as their rise began with Kisumai’s after HSJ’s debut even though their debut was after SZ’s.
This is not to set anything in stone but rather to at least give myself some framework of the Juniors over the years as unlike the debuted groups there are shifts and changes on a pretty constant rate with members coming in and other leaving. So having something to use to focus on a certain segment of Juniors is helpful in trying to learn more about them or trying to notice trends.
I will be making further posts to clarify the eras and what was notable about them in the future.