NEWS – “Topgun/ Love Story” Single Review

Top Gun/ Love Story is Double A-side single released on June 12th, 2019 with a pure love ballad paired together with a passionate, upbeat song about longing after an elite, hard to get woman. On release day, it just scrapped by their 4 member comeback single Chankapana in number of copies sold, making it their best selling single as 4 members. Love Story/ Top Gun sold 121,842 copies and Chankapana sold 121,097 on the first day of sales.

The Songs

Love Story

First let me give a bit of background of this song:
Johnny’s and Associates (NEWS’s management) released a dating simulator game app in March 2018 in collaboration with Gree, a game application developer here in Japan called 「NEWSに恋して」, or “Fall in love with NEWS”. For the 1 year anniversary of the app launch in March 2019, they released a series of commercials, which featured Love Story in it, and was the first time us fans had heard it… or so we thought. NEWS fans were surprised that they actually recognized the tune. It had originally been part of the series of New Year’s concerts “EPCOTIA – encore-” that NEWS held at the beginning of the year where NEWS had the fans hum the melody at one point, recorded it, and then put that recording into the single as a surprise for the fans. When I mean surprised, we really were surprised! During NEWS concerts, to transition between different parts of the show NEWS has the fans do all kinds of things to keep us distracted, such as a quiz game, stomping and clapping to the rhythm of something related to the show theme, etc. So this time they had us do the same thing to help everyone “escape from inside a blackhole”, but to the tune of Love Story. So the fans didn’t suspect a thing!

So, Love Story is actually a love song from NEWS to their fans, but it can be interpreted as a love song in general as well. I love how its a ballad, but has a really nice beat and seriously gets stuck in my head. 12/10 would love another song like this again!

Top Gun「トップガン」

Top Guns is a fun, upbeat song with lots of brass and string sounds and old-school disco-esque guitar, making it have a 70’s sort to feel to it. The first few times I heard this song though I wasn’t impressed with it as I had only heard it as the ending song of the drama …… Even after I saw it during the WORLDISTA tour, I wasn’t a fan of it until I heard the studio version of it. I am a fan of brass sounds combined with other modern elements so as soon as I heard the sounds on the studio version I fell in love with it, and the music video just made me love it even more. My favorite part of the song has to be when Massu raps towards the end in a kind of rap-dubstep breakdown.

The Music Videos

Love Story

The music video for Love Story had 5 different versions; 1 for each member and 1 combined video. Each video was made in 1 cut (with the combined one taking cuts from the individual ones) and the theme was a “date” with them. I like cute, but this really took it to another level but it was very tasteful. It was very well shot and reminded me to Tegomassu’s video “Moshimo Kono Sekai kara ○○ ga nakunatara”. I liked Koyama’s look the the most in this video with his hair and the necklace he wore. It was still sickly sweet and I did squeal at some points, so if you are looking for something overly sweet then this the video for you!

Top Gun「トップガン」

The Top Gun music is a piece of art. I love so much about it I don’t even know where to start. The aesthetic of the boys laying in the flower and the transitions between the dance scenes and the “portrait” flower scenes are phenomenal. Massu’s costumes were really a vital part of the video with the red, black and white combined with the white background. I have to point out that only Massu would make them wear Christian Lou Boutin slightly heeled dress shoes to dance and make it work fantastically. This music video really made me fall in love with the song and has to be one of my favorite NEWS music videos to date, only second to Kaguya. I could watch this video over and over again, that’s how much I love it.

The Verdict

Overall I rank this single as one of my top NEWS singles as 4 members, right next to Ikiro and Kaguya. I like how they have 2 different sounding songs on one single, plus the surprise with Love Story and recording the fans at the concert. Because they released a double A-side single, they will probably only release 1 more single or no more singles before their new album “Story” comes out (production is in process and confirmed by the label) probably sometime in Spring 2020. I highly recommend this single to anyone getting into NEWS, as both singles show different sides of NEWS.

What did you guys think of this single? Did you like Love Story or Top Gun better? Let me know in the comments below!

[Johnnys 101] So You Have Begun to Stan A Johnnys Group – All the basics you need to know

So… you have begun to stan a Johnnys group. Welcome! It’s going to be a very sparkly and emotional ride, but let me give you some tips to help you start out.

This is a new series on my blog called “Johnny’s 101”, where I answer as much in depth about the infamous Japanese boyband agency Johnny’s and associates as I possibly can. As a bit of background, I have been a Johnnys fan for over 10 years now, and have also written my graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. I don’t know everything (as Johnny’s can be mysterious in a lot of ways) but I hope I can give an insight into Johnny’s that you might not know yet.

But first… What is Johnnys?

Johnnys is an all-male talent agency founded in the 1960s by Johnny Kitagawa. The agency is mostly known for training boys (called Johnny’s Juniors) in different parts of the entertainment industry (singing, dancing, acting, etc.) from a young age by having them back dance for the debuted groups, seeing which ones are popular, and then debuting a select few. They aren’t just simply boybands but are involved in many different activities in the entertainment industry in Japan, such as television, movies, fashion, and even novel writing and newscasting. Some of the most popular groups that have come out of Johnnys are SMAP and Arashi.

Now with that out of the way, let’s get to today’s topic which is basics of the agency and the fandom that you should know as a new fan (and maybe a reminder or refresher for those OG fans out there!)

1. Johnny’s is extremely strict (as are the fans) and behind the times

Johnny’s hasn’t digitalized yet (even worse than the rest of Japan… which is saying something) which means there are no YouTube videos or digital music downloads. Hard copies only, my friends! They are super strict with what is uploaded to social media and media sites as well. Around 2014 or so is when they actually put their artist’s pictures on their OWN website and their fan club was super analog until about 2 years ago (hard copy tickets, paying via bank transfer and all) Shocker isn’t it? In my opinion, this is a huge barrier to growth for them, especially internationally. BUT! With that being said recently they have made some huge changes, like Johnny’s official shop goods being sold online within Japan, revamp of the online fan club system, and especially so with the juniors YouTube channel, which is promising. My question though: is it too slow? Let me know what you think!

As for the fans, concert manners and sharing media online is policed pretty strictly. This varies from group to group though, as each fan base has a different “culture” so to speak. An example of this is with my favorite group NEWS, concert spoilers during the tour are kinda a big no-no, as NEWS themselves said a few years back they prefer all the fans to be surprised, so…. you won’t see the set list and hardly any detailed spoilers until after the final show is finished. It’s not to “end game” level, but we protect from spoilers as much as possible. MC is perfectly fine to spoil so bring all the weird things they say!

2. Johnnys is based in Japan and caters mostly to a Japanese audience

Johnny’s is based in Japan and caters to Japanese fans within Japan. I see a lot of fans getting upset that Johnny’s doesn’t do much for international fans and say “Johnny’s hate international fans” but at this point in time with the current stage of the agency, I think these thoughts are misguided. I could make an entirely separate blog post about this (comment below if you want it!), but to sum it up the Japanese music industry is #2 in the world only after the United States. Because of this, Johnny’s can make enough money just within Japan no problem only catering to Japanese fans. Why should they spend the money to expand overseas when they dominate the Japanese market and make enough money anyway? Even fans inside of Japan have a hard time getting concert tickets even when they are in the fan club and the artists only have enough hours in a day, so how can they expand and think of going overseas when they are at capacity inside of Japan? If you think about it that way, you can see why Johnny’s wouldn’t want to cater to foreign fans, as they have their hands full inside of Japan already. Does this mean they shouldn’t share media outside of Japan? No, I think YouTube and social media is essential, but in terms of an international fan club and translating things into many languages, it’s not going to work for a long time and not a good choice business wise. They first need to get the digital infrastructure up and running in Japan first.

3. The Twitter community is probably the strongest to find fan friends (Japanese and foreign)and get the latest information.

Back in the day, LiveJournal used to be the community of choice but in the past 5 years or so that community has pretty much died and everyone is on Twitter. If you want to make fandom friends, make a twitter account and get started by talking with other fans! Japanese fans are also heavy users of Twitter (as Twitter is the dominant social media platform in Japan besides Instagram) so you can get almost any piece of information you need on there. For the most part, us fans are extremely friendly and are more than happy to point you in the direction of what you see looking for. Just be sure to respect the other fans and don’t assume that the way things are done in your country are done that way in Japan and in Johnny’s.

4. No Johnny’s talents have individual Twitter or Instagram accounts or even social media

Okay okay, there is 1 exception that literally happened when I was writing this, which is Yamapi! He was on Weibo, but then on May 16th, he made an Instagram, a Johnny’s first. In general, though, Johnnys do not have social media (including youtube… except the Junior’s channel I mentioned above!) and their “blogs”, called Jwebs, are behind a paywall and are only in Japanese. This poses an interesting dynamic, as the world has moved rapidly towards an era of social media and digital music downloads and streaming, in which Johnnys is pretty archaic. So, if you want to find any information about the group or see their music videos you will have to go on a hunt around the internet.

 

Did I miss anything? What information would you like as a new Johnnys fan or as an OG fan what advice would you give to new fans?

Johnny’s Talk: Why do I love Johnny’s?

Recently, I have been asked by some readers how and why I became interested in Johnny’s and I decided to write down some of my thoughts.

Tegomass no Mahou - Kobe, December 2011

Tegomass no Mahou – Kobe, December 2011

Starting in December, I have reached the point in my life where I am transitioning from school to a full time job and it isn’t the easiest transition. During this transition though, I have been really taking the time to think about why I love the things that I do and prioritizing my time accordingly. As most of you know, Johnny’s is something that I have loved since I was in my first year of University and I have just grown to love it even more over the years and since I have moved to Japan. Why do I love Johnny’s so much? Why do I dedicate so much time to something seemingly just taking my money? I will be explaining some reasons why I love Johnny’s in this post.

Johnny’s makes me smile. Plain and simple as that. Every time I listen to Johnny’s music (which is everyday) I smile. It gives me energy to start my day and calms me down when I am having a bad day. It’s just me and the music at that time. I also have many memories connected to the music and when a particular song comes on; memories of that time in my life flood back and make me smile. Now this can be true of almost any music, but Johnny’s is the music that I have relate the most to.

It’s not just the music that makes me smile, but seeing the boys that I support on TV, doing various projects, working their hardest and seeing them do amazing things makes me happy too. It makes me want to strive and work harder because I see them doing their best in a cut-throat environment and they still smile through it all, but at the same time are close to the fans. They aren’t perfect and can show their more vulnerable side and we know they are human.

Johnny’s gives me someone to support and grow with. After many years of loving Johnny’s, I have settled into whom in the agency I like the most and support the most. For me, that is mostly NEWS, with some other groups that I go and support; mostly the “You and J” groups, which consists of Kanjani8, NEWS, and KAT-TUN. Most of my favorite Johnny’s are not much older than me, normally between 25 and just over 30 years old. Throughout the years, I feel like I have grown with them and seen them accomplish more and more as we all grew towards our dreams. I know it sounds cheezy, but these boys (or I should say men) do amazing things and it makes me want to do amazing things as well. When I see their concerts and performances I am blown away by the quality and the hard work that is put into it. They might not be the most talented people in the entire industry, but you can tell that they work hard, and that is what matters to me. They don’t grow and fit one mold of Johnny’s; they all break off and do what they love to do. Take my favorite group NEWS for example: Koyama is a newscaster, and is an anchor for the news program News Every. Tegoshi loves soccer and is doing work directly related to it, even becoming a main caster for the FIFA World Cup in 2014. Massu loves fashion and now has his own column in a fashion magazine and designs the NEWS tour costumes. Shige wasn’t amazing at literature when he was younger, but he has already written 3 novels and many short stories and is Johnny’s first novel author. Once again, seeing them do amazing things makes me want to do amazing things as well and push myself harder. The best part is that there is a group for everyone to enjoy and there is such a variety of talent in Johnny’s.

Johnny’s lets me be a part of a fandom of amazing fans and being a part of something bigger than just me. Fandom is an amazing thing. I wouldn’t be the person today if it wasn’t for the people that I met through the Johnny’s fandom. Some of my closest friends I have made through this fandom and the experiences of traveling and meeting people from all around the world, are priceless. Fandom isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a mesh pot of amazing people from all around the world coming together that love the same thing. This isn’t just on the internet, but when I go to concerts and I look at the crowd waving their penlights in unison in support of that group, it moves me and I realize I am not alone in what I love. Concerts are one of my greatest joys to attend because I get to interact with fellow fans and I get to see the Johnny’s that I support in person and show my support, even if only I am 1 in thousands.

Tegomassu no Seishun - Fukuoka

Tegomassu no Seishun – Fukuoka, April 2014

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Kanjani8  Jyuusai – Osaka,  August 2014

Last, but not least, Johnny’s gave me a dream. Anime and Manga started me off on my love for Japan, but it wasn’t real to me after a while. When I found Johnny’s, I found a whole new culture and it opened the world to me. I never thought I would want to live in Japan before I entered University, but when I found Johnny’s I wanted to understand what they said, and I wanted to learn more about the Japanese culture. I dived head first into learning Japanese and studied business, and I eventually moved to Japan, then I wrote my business graduate school thesis on the business of Johnny’s. They gave me the motivation to move overseas, away from my family, to open my mind and push myself out of my comfort zone. I realized recently that the thing that I love the most is making people happy and giving them hope in a world that doesn’t do that well. Johnny’s does that for me and lets me find that about myself. From here on out I will be searching for exactly how I want to do it, but I know entertainment and Johnny’s is something that does that for me, along with Japanese Fashion and Music in general. I want to harness what Johnny’s does and let people understand that Johnny’s is more than just pretty boys dancing and singing.

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I hope you all enjoyed this insight into some of my thoughts recently! Why do you like Johnny’s? What makes you happy? Have you found your dream and what is it? Please comment below to let me what you think!

Japanese Entertainment – Introducing INKT

Well nice to meet you all, my name’s Meghan, today’s guest blogger. But that’s not all that important today since I’ll be introducing a new band to you all today.

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INTK taken from inkt.asia

Now a lot of you maybe thinking ‘what is this rock band doing on this blog?’ And some of you may be thinking ‘oh I see’. Lets clear the reasons up very quickly.

 

Last year Tanaka Koki was fired from Johnny’s due to a breach of his contract. I wont go into details since that isn’t the aim of this post, but after his one year restriction he is back with a new band in a new genre.

 

INKT would be what I personally would describe as a One Ok Rock – Abingdon Boys School hybrid. The songs display a good mix, some guitar/bass heavy, others featuring lots of keyboard. Koki also added some rapping in areas, giving the band a rather unique sound.

 

INKT consists of 5 members:
Vo. KOKI
Gt. Kei
Key. kissy
Dr. SASSY
Ba. mACKAz

Now we all know Koki as the ex-KAT-TUN member, but do you all know the rest?

mACKAz and SASSY used to be apart of the band High and Mighty Color, a rock band with a female vocalist. They disbanded a little while ago.

Kei and kissy were both freelance musicians, and had played together in KAT-TUN’s band during the Chain concerts in 2012.

 

In October, INKT was announced opening their website, opening a blog and starting their own fanclub. A teaser was released for their first song, Trigger which marked the announcement of their first album, released on November 8th.

 

Mini song reviews:

Trigger (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
Trigger is what I refer to as the most ‘one ok rock’-like song on the album. Its got a good balance between all the instruments and really sets it clear from the start, this is a rock band. The key point in this song I think will be the lyrics. They are all about pushing forwards and the frustration of standing still.

 

Fight for freedom (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
This one starts with what I can only describe as an anime opening sound. The song quickly loses this and becomes an interesting blend of keyboard, guitar and rap. The lyrics show a very battle-ready kind of attitude, showing that the band is ready to take on anything that may come their way. The lyrics talk a lot about fighting for freedom (like the title implies) and how they are ready to leave the past behind and to take on a new future.

 

A Whole New World (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
This is definitely what I would call a more drum and guitar based song. The tune is more upbeat than fight for freedom. It has smooth transactions. From the title alone I got the image of Aladdin stuck in my head. Which in a way is what the lyrics are aiming for. There is a lot of talking about how everything is trapped in a boring world, and that we should break free into a new world where we can make our own place. The most catchy line is definitely ‘I’ll bring you to a whole new world’. It suits the image of the band. A rock band making their own place, taking fans from KAT-TUN and high and mighty colour and leading them to a new sound.

 

Past & Future (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
This one starts with guitars in a way that I think is similar to Asian Kung fu generation. Its got a very mellow and smooth sound that makes for easily listening. Its lighter than the other songs musically, but seems to have a heavier lyric focus with phrases like “We won’t fight our way any more, We’ve got to start to run brand new way.” and “We will keep going with our life, till our hearts stop beating”.
This song I think features some great bass lines though, which you wouldn’t typically notice in other rock bands, unless you listen for it.

 

Shangri-La (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
This is great upbeat song with a feeling of moving forwards. The composition reminds me of some of Asian Kung fu generation’s more heavier songs. But it holds it own unique style with the vocals leading the tune rather than the guitar or keyboard. Also its one of the fewer songs with a gentler hook rather than a heavy rock based one like trigger. The song’s lyrics are a lot about forgetting all their troubles and about just letting go and having fun.

 

Survivor (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)
This one is easily my favourite and from what I’ve seen of fan responses, is perhaps a fan favourite too. Its very vocal heavy, with what almost seems to be telling a story with phrases like ‘Tell me why? Tell me what to do’ and ‘Survivor, I’m a messenger’. The keyboard and guitars does a fantastic job in this song, backing up the image of the vocals perfectly.

 

FTW (Lyrics: Koki Music: SASSY)
A lot of people I know were really anticipating this one after the itunes previews were released. Its the only one with a rap start. Its a fast song with the guitar really leading the tune. Koki really worked hard with the lyrics of this one, and is clearly enjoying being able to swear in his songs now. The lyrics make me question a lot of things though as there are a lot of lines like “the manipulated gossip of the mass media, fuck that” and “Can’t say what I wanna say.” It makes me wonder what Koki is really trying to say in this song.

 

45′ (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
This one seems almost like a mix of different genres. It takes elements of pop and electro and mixes it into a more rock style. The most interesting part I think is the chorus and the almost out of place piano after it. The lyrics talk a lot about keeping your mouth shut if you don’t know anything. Its very interesting, and is well interlaced with the other instruments and with rap to make it captivating. This song does make me realise that Koki has been working on his vocals and is really trying to make a good range of sounds for INKT.

 

Hide and Seek (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kei)
On this album, this one is probably the closest you would get to a slower song (accept Zutto, I’ll talk about that song at the end). You can hear the keyboard introducing a good lighter counter tune to the strong guitar in this song. I think its a good blend of the two to make a more emotional song with supportive lyrics talking about being together and carrying on together. Life, and maybe love too, is a bit like a game of hide and seek is what the song seems to be trying to convey. “I never leave you. Trust me.
It’s alright now. Don’t be afraid” It also is like a promise to the fan’s, they aren’t going to leave us.

 

Iron Heart (Lyrics: Koki Music: mACKAz)
I felt like this was a strong song to finish on. Its almost got a finale feeling to it with it long introduction, long instrumental and long outro. The lyrics seem to be leading this song. The lyrics itself is a little darker, talking about once being a robot with no feelings, but then being changed by love. This is a great thing, but then the song goes on to say that his love has now gone away, and he doesn’t know what to do with these feelings and that he can’t turn back any more. He has to continue forwards. Its a beautiful song when you listen to it, and the lyrics sound almost like a hopeless promise that you know will one day be fulfilled. I think this may be INKT’s musical promise of more.

 

Overall I think its a strong album. I think it shows elements of all the members strengths and really sets themselves in the rock genre.
I would really recommend Survivor, Shangri-La and FTW.

INKT do have two other songs, which were not released on the album, but are available for online download.

 

Zutto (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)

Zutto is one of them that also had a music video released for it. This one is a ballad, and gives a good contrast to the heavier rock songs that have been featured on the album.

 

Zutto is heartbreaking I think. The ballad is beautiful with a nice gentle mix between guitar and keyboard. Koki’s voice matches it well, but the pain of the lyrics really seep out. The song is about lost love and about scolding oneself for still not forgetting about it, like he is still trapped in love.

 

Nobody Knows (Lyrics: Koki Music: Kissy)

This one sounds very upbeat and is a nice addition to their music. This one is almost like a smooth rock song with lots of guitar-keyboards in it. The lyrics talk about moving on after losing oneself and to step forward towards a new road. Its an uplifting song which is fun to listen to.

 

Im glad to see INKT starting out like this and I really look forward to what they are going to produce in the future.

 

Till next time x

 

INKT official website

INKT official blog

INKT official youtube

Lyric translations

 

 I’m Meghan, a South African who has lived all over the place. Currently I live in Japan where I am a teacher, a writer, a traveller, a translator, a blogger and a dreamer. Meghan’s blog

Japanese Entertainment: The Relationship Between Japanese Idols And Their Fans

While I was writing my thesis for my MBA today, which is on the topic of Johnny’s and Associates and the Japanese music industry, the topic of the relationship between a Japanese Idol and their fans popped into my head. Actually, it had been in my head for a while now ever since an article by the Yomiyuri Newspaper about Koyama Keiichiro, a member of my favorite Idol group NEWS,  was released about a week and a half ago. Koyama became a news caster for “News Every” in Spring of 2010 and this January he became a main caster for four out of five weekdays, when the program runs. This article was about the human connection and how through news casting he has been able to connect more with many people, and his fans, more than before. Though he says it’s rare for idol groups to have that deep of a connection, I still think this reflects the relationship between idol groups and their fans.

What exactly is the relationship between Japanese idols and their fans? You can describe it in different ways but I like to simply describe it as like one of a girlfriend and boyfriend, or best friends, but also like parent and child.

The appeal of the Japanese idol is simple, they aren’t perfect. These idols are produced by an management company that trains them from when they are kids to sing and dance and act and be an all around entertainer. From when they enter into the company they are put into the spotlight. They aren’t told or trained to be perfect though and in fact, they are put on variety shows and other television shows where they are made to do wacky things and their personality really shows through. Of course there are parts of this that are artificially produced and controlled, like not having a boyfriend or girlfriend (in public at least) and being clean cut and not having a bad-boy or bad-girl image, but for the most part they are the boy or girl next door. They seem like a normal person that just walked off the street, not a celebrity that is far from reach.

Another aspect of this is that the fans have a say in what the Idol does. Since the fans are spending money on entertainment, the idol and the management company must give them just that. So, the management company and the idols listens closely to the fans to see what they want, and they give it to them. They also sometimes put on events specifically where the fans get to decide themselves what they want, like choosing the set-list for a concert or in AKB48’s case, the fans can vote on who they want to be the “center”, the person who is the focus of the whole routine. This way, the fans feel like they had a hand in the idol growing and the fans grow a long with them, or see them grow up like a parent. I see a lot of mothers and their daughters go to concerts together and support the idol together; the daughter sees the idol as supporting them like a girlfriend would a boyfriend and the mother sees it as supporting the idol like they would their own child.  When idol fans grow up and have their own family and children, another younger idol group has debuted and then their daughter gets into them and the cycle continues.

I also think that Idols give fans a dream, something to shoot for. While the idols grow up and reach their goals, the fans are inspired by them trying so hard, so they work hard for their dream while supporting the idol too. I have met many people that say that being a fan of an idol group has changed their life and made them have a dream and find something that they love or helped them at a hard time in their life. It might be dramatic to say this, but I feel the same way as well. If I hadn’t found my love for Japanese Idols, I wouldn’t have realized my love for Japanese entertainment and I wouldn’t have wanted to move to Japan and live here. So in a way, they help create dreams and the Idols cheer us on as well.

So in a nutshell, this is the relationship. The Idol gives entertainment and gives the fans something to support, the appeal being that they aren’t perfect and they can support the idol growing up and the fans take pride in being apart of that. The Fans spend money on the idol and they get the feeling of satisfaction and pride at being apart of something. They each give and receive something and its unique and pure in a way. Sure there is business behind it and brilliant marketing, but this relationship is something unique to Japan I think.

What do you think about the relationship between Japanese idols and their fans? Have they inspired you in someway? Let me know what you think about this topic below! I think it would be an interesting discussion!

Johnnys Talk: What exactly is Johnnys??

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 nihonchique@gmail.com.

*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*

“Strawberry Night” J-Drama

Normally I don’t like Japanese police dramas from past experiences of getting bored with them, unless they are a comedy (like Deka Wanko). They just didn’t have as good of a story line or a way to keep me engaged like American ones do. Despite this, I decided to give this one a try because Maruyama Ryuhei from Kanjani8 was in it and I like him as an actor. I dragged my feet for a few weeks before I was able to sit down and try to watch it. I fully intended to just skip to all the parts with Maruyama in it, but found myself hooked from the start. I REALLY like this drama!

 

 

Why do I like this drama?

First and foremost, I like the fact that the main character is a woman, and that she is a top detective in the first division of the police.  When a woman is the main character of a Japanese police drama, they are normally demoted or just have a very “woman” like role. This is not the case at all with Strawberry Night. The main character of Himekawa is a very strong woman who gets down and dirty with the men.  A running “sub plot” (if you can call is that) is that some of the men under her didn’t respect her at first because she was a woman.

Another reason that I like this drama is that I am obsessed with American crime/ police and medical shows, like House M.D., CSI, NCIS, Law and Order and so on. This drama reminds me of those kinds of shows in the way that the cases and the relationship between characters develop. I really hadn’t see that in a Japanese police drama before.

So check out Strawberry Night! Its not a top favorite of mine quite yet, but it might be by the time it ends!