First off I just want to say if any Johnny’s unit or member were to retire, or in the case of groups disband, it would sadden me greatly. Even for the groups that I am not really a fan of, they still are groups that I had followed for a while and have an appreciation for. But thinking of things logistically instead of emotionally I cannot help but wonder how many active groups can Johnny’s handle before it becomes too much. Especially if they are unwilling to concede trying to get them to debut at #1 on the sales charts with now the sales competition from AKS and their groups.
This is something Johnny’s has not really had to deal with before as groups never lasted as long as they do now. But now that groups that debut are practically guaranteed to be able to stick around for decades as long as they have members that want to go on how is it going to work when groups keep debuting without older groups calling it quits?
Looking at the daisempai acts that are still with the agency like Kondo Masahiko and Shounentai there is a place for the older groups if they do not want to disband. Though it would mean barely releasing anything and severely cutting back the amount of work they do. I can already see Tackey & Tsubasa already moving in this direction despite them being one of the younger groups. They do not release much these days and are mainly active with their theater work much like Shounentai is. I can see this eventually also being A.B.C-Z’s route as I do not see them breaking away from being heavily involved with theater work, but on the plus side it pretty much means they will be around for a long time to come.
I do not think this will be the direction all Johnny’s groups will take though. I think a big reason Johnny’s have left the sempai groups together is because even those that do not have high sales numbers are still popular on TV. For them I think whatever SMAP chooses to do will play a major role in what they choose to do.
Even though there are Johnny’s that have been active in the agency longer than SMAP, they are still the group that really started the trend for so many of the groups that came after them with their success not only on the charts but also with ratings. Which is why I think the older groups are willing to take their cue from them for deciding when would be the best time to retire/disband.
Honestly SMAP right now does not really have a reason to retire/disband outside of just not wanting to be idols anymore. I do not see them dropping in ratings rapidly anytime soon and as long as they have some of the highest rated TV programs they have a reason to stay together as a group. Though each member could “go solo” if the group disbanded and concentrate on their chosen career field, such as TV host and/or actor, and still remain popular for some time.
But at the same time I think if one member wants to quit the group and they let him SMAP will disband then. Even though they lost a member much earlier in their career by now the current line up is what makes SMAP well SMAP. Without one of them I do not think they would really be able to be the same and as mentioned before they can probably do as well solo than together, minus their music careers of course. And I am sure even they must realize that there comes a time for idol groups to end, especially as they grow older.
But they can always prove me wrong and remain together until their bodies refuse to let them continue doing everything they do. They still do have a good amount of years that they can be active, especially if they take care of their health. And they can become another version of Shounentai, were instead of just continuing mainly with theater work they will do variety work. Which will still work in the favor of the younger Johnny’s groups as it will still mean one less group releasing CDs.
That kind of future would also work with much of the older Johnny’s groups as well.
Though I can see Kinki Kids releasing CDs until kingdom come or at least until the release a Z album, or at least Domoto Tsuyoshi continuing on with his music until he physically cannot anymore as he comes off to be that passionate about it.
Either way though it probably will be years before these possibilities come into effect, if they even do. Which means for newer groups times may be tough for them as Johnny’s plays the waiting game to get them to release on the right week to make sure they get their number 1. I guess they can be thankful that there are already some groups that Johnny’s is willing to let debut with something less, V6, TOKIO, Tackey & Tsubasa, NYC and most recently Yamashita Tomohisa. But unless groups disband or more start selling low enough to lose their number 1 streaks things are still going to remain hard for them to plan to keep the current streaks going let alone make room for new groups.