Johnnys. Whenever I hear that word, the three things that come to mind are: Sparkly, pretty boys, and talent.
Well, lets start from the beginning. Johnny and Associates, or “Johnnys” for short, is an all male talent agency in Japan created by the all famous Johnny Kitagawa. It started out in the 1960’s when Johnny saw the musical West Side Story in Japan. He had the idea to create talent that was even better than that. So, he took boys from the baseball team that he was coaching at the time and made them into a singing group and it is history from there. Well …. not quite. It has taken Johnnys decades to become the idol powerhouse that it is today.
With that being said, I will not get into the history of Johnny and Associates because there are places that have already written an in depth history floating around the internet. Instead, I will explain the concept of Johnnys at present time.
The Concept of a “Johnnys”
Johnnys boys are classified as clean cut (in physical form and public image), handsome guys that train from a young age to sing, act, and dance, along with much more to become an all around entertainer, or “idol” as the Japanese call it. This is unlike the west where people only train to be one denomination, such as an actor or singer. They join the agency at a young age and become a “Johnnys Jr’s”, which is basically Johnny’s term for a trainee. The job as a Jr. is basically to back dance for and gain experience from the already debuted groups in the agency in the hopes that one day they will debut in a singing group (or solo) one day. Not all Johnny’s Jr.’s debut, unfortunately, and there are even some Jr’s that are as old as some of the debuted Johnnys.
The Entertainer or “Idol”
Once they debut ,the singing group is their primary activity.Since they are trained as all around entertainers though, they do solo work on the side. The most common example of these solo activities are stage plays, Japanese dramas, and commercials. Some other rarer examples are Kato Shigeaki from the group NEWS has written a book recently, which is a first for a Johnnys, and Arashi’s Ohno Satoshi has done an art exhibition a while back. Idols are all around entertainers and have many talents other than just singing or just acting.
Even while classified as a Jr., though rare, they do some of these solo activities and also in plays produced by Johnnys specifically for Jr.’s to appear in. Its not just Johnnys that produces idols though, there are many other agencies in Japan, and all around Asia.
What is an Talent Agency?
I won’t say much about this right now because it is a topic for another post, but an agency is a company that manages idols or talent. Its not just Japan that has talent agencies, but many other asian countries have them as well, like Korea and China. Talent agencies are more known in Asia than in the west though, because the western way of managing talent and raising talent is a bit different than in Asia for the most part.
Also, don’t confuse a record label with a talent agency. This is a common mistake for western fans of Asian music. Though Johnnys has a few in house record labels, they also have talent under different labels in Japan. A talent agency is just a managing company for the most part, though they might own in house record labels. What I mean by an “in house” record label is a record label that is owned by a talent agency, but operates as a separate company.
This was brief overview of Johnny and Associates. This is almost like a introduction post to more detailed posts that will be coming soon about Johnnys. I hope you enjoyed this and if you have any questions about Johnnys for the next “Johnnys Talk”, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Everything that I talk about in this post is what I have read or know to be true. If there is any inconsistencies, please let me know with some sort of source that I may look up for my own reference to correct any errors*