Japanese Entertainment – Top 10 Johnny’s Release Picks of 2014

Johnny's-picks-2014
It’s the end of 2014 , which means wrapping up the year with this year’s Top Johnny’s Release Picks! I have picked my favorite 10 releases of the year and will tell you a bit about them. some artists that I normally don’t pick have appeared in this year’s list, so I hope that you will enjoy wrapping up 2014 in Johnny’s style!

Johnny’s West – Yume wo Dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen「ジパング・おおきに大作戦 / 夢を抱きしめて」

Johnny’s West debuted this year with “ee janaika” and “Yume wo dakishimete/ Jipanngu ookini daisakusen” is their second official single. While I was in the store looking at some other music, I decided to have a listen to this single because the jacket covers were colorful and intrigued me. I ended up falling in love with this double A-side single and I found myself singing it at random times during the day for months, especially Jipanngu ookini daisakusen. Even now I have an energy boost whenever it comes up on shuffle in my iPhone. Yume wo dakishimete is a more “Johnny’s-like” song, I love the “Latin” sounds in it and shows a different side of West than I had seen before.  I even ended up buying their first album after listening to this single and quite enjoy that as well. Have a listen to Johnny’s West for some “genki”, fun music!

Kanjani8 – Ittajanika/ CloveR「言ったじゃないか / CloveR」

This was Kanjani8’s first single on their new Label, infinity records. CloveR was for member Ohkura’s movie by the same title, and Ittajanaika was for member Nishikido’s drama “Gomenn ne seishun”. Ittajnaika is a more rock band style song and the thing I love most about it is the music video and the lyrics. Its kind of reminiscent of a past single “It’s my soul” Basically, the lyrics are about guys not understanding why women say things and lie and wanting to know the truth from them. CloveR, on the other hand, is a more pop-like song that actually reminds me of a One Direction song. It’s different for Eito to have a more love pop-like song like that and I thought it was a perfect song to tie into the movie. It make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside when I hear it!

NEWS – ONE-for the win-

“One-for the win-“ is NEWS’s first single since “World Quest” in December 2012. Member Tegoshi Yuya was chosen as the main caster for this year’s FIFA World Cup Brazil and “ONE – for the win-“ served as the FIFA World Cup 2014 theme song on the network Tegoshi served as the Main caster on, Nihon Television. It’s an upbeat song with a Latin “Brazil”, summer feel to it. The amazing part of this song is that all the participating country’s names are contained inside of this song and didn’t just cheer on Japan, but every team participating! “One – for the win-“ was the song that defined my summer this year and has a special place in my heart. I have lots of memories watching Japan play in the World Cup this year with friends and cheering on Japan with this fun and energetic theme song!

Tegomass – Tegomass no Seishun 「テゴマスの青春」

“Tegomass no Seishun” was Tegomass’s first album since October 2011 and they didn’t disappoint! Tegomass has a signature “light and upbeat” style to their music that never fails to move me. With “Seishun” Tegomass, now 27 and 28, graduated to a more mature sound while still sticking with their normal style of music. They focused on the music and vocals more than ever and it really showed through the tour they had this past spring too. They had collaboration with the “Godspellers” called “DONUTS” and the main song promoted on the album, “Hikari”, has an incredibly beautiful music video. For more information and my full review of “Tegomass no Seishin” click here!

Kanjani8 –Omoi Dama 「オモイダマ」

Omoi Dama was used at the Theme song for this year’s “Koshien”, the hugely popular and prestigious High School baseball tournament held every summer in Japan. They had a high school band participate in the music video and the “marching band style” sound to the song is just amazing and reminds me of my own high school and University days cheerleading for American football and basketball games. The rhythm of the song speeding up and slowing back down and the meaningful lyrics connecting to the baseball tournament, cheering on people’s dreams really makes this song amazing. I listen to it when I feel down and every time I hear it now it makes me smile and know not to give up.

TOKIO – LOVE, HOLIDAY.

“Love Holiday” was written by member Nagase Tomoya and was a collobration song for the JRA (Japan Racing Association). It’s an upbeat song and I love the guitar in it. It has a kind of “country rock” combined with a swing feel to it and the bass combined with the horns in the song really makes the song for me! They are the only “band group” in Johnny’s, so their style and music is different from the typical Johnny’s sound. I really haven’t ever been a huge TOKIO fan, but since Massu (from NEWS) started working with Taichi on Ippuku, I have been becoming more intrigued in the group because of a close friend, and since this year was their 20th year anniversary, they had a lot of promotions and I was able to get a better feel for TOKIO than before.

Kanjani8 – Jyuusai 「十祭」DVD

This was Kanjani8’s 10 Year anniversary special event held this past August and it didn’t disappoint! This was also Kanajni8’s first DVD release on their new label. The quality is amazing, along with the videography itself. They had another Eight Ranger skit and also did a Johnny’s medley! Their feelings of the past 10 years were put into this special concert and it really shows through, even in the DVD. As an added bonus, they did other songs that they don’t usually perform and the fans were able to decide some of the songs that they did in the concert as well. It has a feel of a typical Japanese Summer Festival and I loved it, as summer is one of my favorite things about Japan. I hadn’t laughed so hard in a long time as when I went to this concert. Kanjani8 concerts are really an amazing experience, even on DVD.

Hey! Say! JUMP – smart

Hey! Say! JUMP was the first group I got into in Johnny’s! I hadn’t been following their music closely for a while, but this album caught my attention in the CD store and I decided to buy it. I was very surprised at the variety of music that was inside of it, from a Hip Hop sound, to band style, to pop. It was at that point that I realized that they had many sides to them and it was an interesting concept to me. I really enjoy most of the songs on the album and realize just how much Hey! Say! JUMP has grown since I was a huge fan of theirs. In 2015, I would really like to follow them more closely than before!

Kanjani8 – Kanjanizm 「関ジャニズム」

To be perfectly honest, I hated this album when I first heard it. I loved all of the singles from when Kanjani8 changed to their new label, but this album was a big question mark to me. I only liked the main song, E J Coaster, and the singles, and that was about it. I put the album down for a while because I got busy too, and then picked it up again a few weeks later. I fell in love with it! After listening to it a few times, I was able to pick up the flow of the album and the feel of the album and I thought it was amazing. It is a bit different than typical eito, but eito style none-the less. There have been mixed views about this album by people I have seen online, but I think it’s good that eito is taking charge of their stuff more with their own record label. Though it is more pop-like than before, it still has band style songs and has the “eito-feel” to it.

NEWS – NEWS 10th Anniversary in Tokyo Dome DVD

This DVD is a very special DVD to me, as I was able to attend this special even in person, and I was able to celebrate NEWS’s 10th Anniversary with them. This was NEWS’s first time back in Tokyo Dome since their LIVE LIVE LIVE! tour in 2010, which was about 3 years before this special event was held. They had an amazing enter stage set up, along with 2 live marching bands that came and performed with them. They even wrote a song for the fans that was only performed at this event called “Ai Kotoba”. This DVD also includes behind the scenes footage of the whole concert tour, as well as LIFE OF NEWS part 2, continuing from LIFE OF NEWS that was on the DVD with the Album “NEWS”. The album was amazing, so the set list and the songs are all amazing in this DVD, too.

Bonus: KAT-TUN – come HERE

I was originally not going to include an 11th this year, but I felt like I had to put this in here as well because the album was different from past KAT-TUN albums and I want to mention it along with the other releases. The title song “come Here” is a very pop-ish song, when KAT-TUN is normally more edgy and rock-like. People who don’t know KAT-TUN too well might think that they have changed style judging from just this song, but if you dive deeper into the album it has a rock feel to it as normal, just a bit more on the pop-ish side. I love Udea’s solo “Art of Life” along with Nakamaru’s “Crescent”, and all the singles are definitely KAT-TUN like.

Phew that was long! Johnny’s has had some great releases this year, and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for the fans! What did you think of these pick for 2014? What are your choices for the top Johnny’s releases of 2014? Comment below and let me know!

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Johnny’s Talk: Lauren’s Guide To What To Bring To A Johnny’s Concert

Since many of you all might be coming to a Johnny’s concert here in Japan in the future, I thought I would give you some ideas on what to bring to a Johnny’s concert by telling you what I normally bring to a Johnny’s concert! This is what I bring most of the time when I attend a concert, but it changes sometimes on the show and also the weather as well. Let’s jump right in!

#1: Ticket

This may be obvious, but you can’t enter the concert venue without a ticket. Many a time I have seen on twitter and heard from my friends that they have accidentally forgot their ticket at home or in the hotel. Just double check your bag before you leave to make sure you have your ticket before leaving! This will save lots of trouble so you aren’t rushing to get your ticket at the last minute and risk being late for the show. Also, I personally recommend you buy your ticket before the actual day of the concert as well. This will save lots of hassle and worry if you will be able to attend the actual show. If you are interested on how to ballot for fan club tickets I made a post here about it previously, but if you would like a post about ways to get Johnny’s concert tickets without being in the fan club please let me know in the comments or tweet me!

#2 Money

Another obvious thing, but sometimes I have panicked on wether I had enough money to buy concert goods at the venue because I was rushing. Take that extra few minutes to calculate how much your goods will be and make sure you have enough money for them! It will save you time so you won’t have to get back inside the goods line again for things you couldn’t pay for. Also, when you are having fun at the venue you don’t want to have to worry about money for food and other things as well before or after the show.

#3 Water

Remember to hydrate hydrate hydrate! I can’t tell you how many times I have forgotten a bottle or 2 of water and I have regretted it and searched frantically at the venue for a vending machine, only to find that they were all sold out (crazy Johnny’s fans….). Especially outside concerts it is important. Even if its not outside, you will be standing for at least 2 hours and not eating or drinking during that time. Normally during the MC I take out my bottle of water and drink it and have it handy at the top of my bag to drink during the concert as well. Normally the domes allow you to eat and drink inside of them, but there are some instances where you can’t at really small vanes. For this only bring water, not another type of drink. They do having vending machines or convenience stores around or inside the venue, so don’t fret if you forget! I just normally buy before entering inside because its cheaper for the most part and inside the venue might be sold out.

#4 Rain Items: Umbrella/ Poncho

Check the wether forecast if it’s going to rain. If it is going to rain, then I recommend going to a convenience store and buying a fold up umbrella, not a full sized one because it is long and the seats are small in Japan. Keep it inside your purse or concert goods bag! Most of the time the venues aren’t connected to the subway or trains or busses, so you will want to have one with you. The convenience store near the venues might become sold out, so try to buy near your hotel or home or someplace that isn’t near the venue. An umbrella is also handy if you have to stand outside in line for concerts goods, because at most venues the goods line is outside the venue.

Also, for outside concerts you are not allowed to have an umbrella up during the concerts and they are performed rain or shine. So buy a poncho at a convenience store or 100 yen store to keep somewhat dry! Buy an extra one to wrap your concert goods in so that they don’t get wet either.

#5 Recommended Concert Goods

You won’t bring these with you if you haven’t bought them yet, but I will at least say my recommended goods to bring or buy at the concert! This is also up to personal preference as well, so buy the goods that you will want to use! You also don’t have to buy the goods for the actual tour you are attending either ! You can buy them used if you are short on funds or if you prefer a past tour’s goods instead!

a. Penlight

A penlight is a must for a Johnny’s concert! I recommend a penlight because everyone brings them and uses them in the concert and it also in a way makes you part of the actual concert itself. You wave it in time with the music and do the hand motions of the songs with it! My first 2 concerts I went to for Johnnys in summer 2009 (KAT-TUN and Kanjani8) I didn’t buy a penlight and I felt left out because I didn’t realize how important they were until I went to my 3rd concert in 2010-2011 (Kanjani8 8Uppers countdown concert).

b. Towel

This is defiantly optional and up to everyone’s tastes, but recently I have been into buying concert towels because they are useful during the summer in Japan and for rainy days. I normally keep it around my shoulders during the concert. It helps with outside concerts and sweating (even inside concerts too!) and sometimes the guys have you twirl towels in the air to certain songs as well!

c. Uchiwa

Another optional item, but I didn’t know what the point of Uchiwas were when I went to my first Johnny’s concerts, but Uchiwas are the Japanese style fans with the face of your favorite member on them. You buy your favorite member’s (or members’) Uchiwa and it is not only telling the guys themselves who your favorite members are, but also the other fans as well. I always get asked at concerts who my favorite member is and its a great conversation starter with Japanese fans, as well as foreign fans! So hold your uchiwa proud! (but just to chest level… you don’t want to block the view of the fans behind you!)

d. Bag

To keep all of your concert goods in and for putting your newly bought concert goods inside, I recommend bringing a bag! Most of the goods that I buy won’t fit inside my purse so I always bring the tour bag with me.  When I went to Shige’s stageplay a few weeks ago, I didn’t realize how many goods I was going to buy and it didn’t fit inside my purse, so I had to run to a nearby 100 yen store and buy a bag! So make sure for a stage play you bring a previous tour bag or your own bag to put the goods inside because stage plays don’t sell bags normally.

Having a tour bag is also another fun way to identify you as a fan of the group and Japanese fans might even come up and talk with you!

 

 

Well, these were my recommended items to bring to a Johnny’s concert! I hope you all enjoyed! If there is anything that you think I forgot or want to know if its okay to bring please comment below! Let me know what your concert essentials are if you have been to a Johnny’s concert before. Also, let me know if you like these types of posts!

 

Johnnys Talk: Johnnys and Marriage + Dating

UPDATED 2-17-2017

Most people in the Johnnys fandom have heard about Jin Akanishi’s recent marriage to Kuroki Meisa at the beginning of February and it has been a pretty hot topic since. Why is that? This would seem like just everyday gossip that you would see in the tabloids about celebrities in America, but in the world of Johnnys, and East-Asian idols, it is a big deal. Some people have asked, “Why is it such a big deal?” and the question is hard to answer, unless you are familiar with how the industry works in general. I wanted this Johnnys Talk to be about Johnnys and Marriage because of Jin’s recent marriage and to shine light on a side of the situation that many foreign fans, like me, would not understand.  I will not be talking about Jin’s marriage specifically, but talking about how the marriages of Johnnys (and East-Asian idols) are different than the marriages American/ western celebrities and how I know Johnnys to get married.

Management

Before getting into marriage and dating, I think it’s important to explain the management system of idols in the east. I mentioned this a previous Johnnys Talk post, but most idols (and celebrities) in East Asia are managed by an agency. This agency acts as a mediator between the idol and the people who want the idol for jobs, as well as manage the all around schedule and what they do for their job as an idol. As I know it, western celebrities don’t have an agency, but just a manager or a PR person who interacts with the press and mediates between others who want to do business with them. In East Asia, the idol will have a manager but they only manage the day to day activities of the idol, not actually give the idol work. There is also a whole hierarchy of management for big agencies like Johnnys, and in some cases the talents wont even have their own personal manager, but a group manager instead. It is the agency’s job to assign work to the idols that comes in from outside sources, as well as assign work for the core of what they do, which is being in a singing group.

Rules and Image

Along with management by an agency comes strict regulations, which include rules about dating and marriage. This isn’t just Johnnys, but most idol groups and talent agencies, though each one’s rules are different. AKB48 and the other groups in the “48” also have these types of regulations. If you break these regulations, you can be kicked out of the group or “asked to resign”. Johnnys isn’t too strict about dating in terms of getting kicked out of the agency, but they are asked to keep the dating very private and out of the public eye. If a Johnnys is caught dating, most of the time it will be denied and the agency (on both parties’ part) will release an official statement that they are just friends, regardless if that is true or not. Johnnys will not get kicked out of the agency because of that, but other talent agencies are stricter. The same goes with marriage, but there are more strict regulations about that in Johnnys. Everything has to go through the agency regarding the talent that they manage, from assigning work, to who they are dating, and if they are going to get married. Why are there all of these regulations and why does everything have to go through the agency? It’s all about image.

An idol’s (and celebrity’s) image is everything in Japan, and East Asia. What agency the idol joins is also an indicator on what kind of image that idol is supposed to portray. In the case of Johnnys, they are supposed to be good looking, clean cut men that seem obtainable to all women. The key here is “seem obtainable to all women”. How can a Johnnys seem obtainable to all women when he is dating someone or is married? This is my business student side coming out, but what if this image is tarnished by dating someone or getting married? That idol is no longer marketable for the agency. If an idols isn’t marketable anymore, that makes it harder for the agency to get jobs for the idol, which means they are keeping someone on that will not make them money. So, the idol must abide by these rules and regulations or risk becoming a liability to the agency. It’s harsh, yes, but managing idols is still a business.

It’s a harsh reality, but not all hope is lost

Now, at this point most people from the west would say at this point “That is so wrong! They should be able to marry and date whoever they want!” Its true, but in reality if they want to keep their job, they have to abide by these rules. Even though Johnnys join the agency at a young age, before they debut they mostly know what they are getting into. If they don’t like that, then they can leave the agency. Many Johnnys have done that in the past for various reasons. Some already debuted Johnnys have decided to leave the agency as well, not necessarily for dating and marriage reasons though. Having the image is apart of the job, unfortunately. Other people might say “Oh! Well, they can just change management or quit”. Because Johnnys have been raised to do this from a young age, many of them only have a high school education, though it is becoming normal for Johnnys to go to college, and is actually encouraged by the agency now. Because of that, they don’t have the ability to change jobs freely because being an idol is all they have known. As for management, it’s VERY difficult to change from Johnnys to other management and still have the same level of activities and popularity that they had in the past, as Johnnys has a huge hold of the market in Japan and the “former Johnnys” sticks like glue. It comes down to Johnnys, and other idol agencies, being a business, though a rather harsh reality.

With all of that being said though, not all hope is lost! Johnnys DO date. They just do it out of the public eye. Johnnys have gotten married before, but there are certain requirements that need to be fulfilled and sometimes there are special circumstances that happen that they have to get married (from what know).

What if a Johnnys wants to get Married?

There are a handful of Johnnys that have gotten married in the past, like Kimura Takuya from SMAP, Inohara Yoshihiko from V6, and Tatsuya Yamaguchi from TOKIO (UPDATE: though he got a divorce from his wife in 2016, and TOKIO member Kokubun Taichi got married in 2015). I think there are a few others, but these are the most recent ones, besides Jin. With all of these, I see a trend of the Johnnys dating the same woman for a very long time, sometimes even living with the woman. (Kokubun Taichi has been going out with his now wife for 20 years before he was allowed to get married) They tend to get married in their mid-ish 30’s (or later), and their fans are older as well. This means that the idol getting married becomes less of a liability to the agency as they grow older, as they are already established idols, and their fan base has grown up with them and are most likely married themselves.  Younger groups are still very marketable because they haven’t hit their peak of popularity yet (for the most part) and their fan base is still young and single (meaning not married) so it is more of a liability for the agency for the younger idols to get married, as the fans will more than likely loose interest if their idol gets married at a younger age.

As for the timing of the marriage, they tell the agency months, sometimes years in advance if they intend to marry. This way, the agency knows how to present the marriage. The exception of this was Kimura Takuya, which came as a surprise. His situation was very similar to Jin; his current girlfriend was pregnant and they suddenly got married because of that. The difference between Jin and Kimura Takuya is that Kimura Takuya said that he had been thinking about getting married with his girlfriend for a while, even before finding out about the pregnancy. Despite these circumstances, Kimura Takuya went through Johnnys before going through with the marriage, but Jin did not. (UPDATE: Kokubun Taichi had waited years to marry his current wife before they got married and even sent out a notice card to everyone in the fanclub when the announcement happened.)

Updates since writing this article in 2012

Since Jin’s shotgun marriage, he left the agency when his contract ran out in 2014. Meisa announced herself being pregnant with their second child in November 2016. Kokubun Taichi was the next person to get married in the agency in 2015, and his first child was born in 2016. Yamaguchi announced his divorce in August of 2016. I have also updated some of the information inside the article as well and I will continue to do so as more information comes along.

I hope you all enjoyed this little bit of information about Johnnys! I think that Johnnys and marriage is an interesting topic and if you have any questions about this topic or for the next Johnnys Talk, or if you have any different information, please comment below or send me an email at nihonchique@gmail.com.