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Archive for February, 2010

For last night’s performance in Music Station, Sho was not present because he had to fly to Canada for the opening ceremony of the Vancouver Olympics. For those who don’t know, he was chosen as a special caster for Nihon TV’s coverage of the Vancouver Olympics. (And Arashi sang the theme song for this coverage of the Olympics.)

In case you were wondering why he was chosen and maybe thinking because he belongs to one of Japan’s popular idol groups is the reason why he was chosen, then you’re wrong. Actually, Sho is really a newscaster. He is a newscaster for News Zero.

Well, I must admit that being a part of Arashi must have something to do too.

He may not be present physically, but he was still able to perform… as a HOLOGRAM! Seriously, how cool is that? Creative and amazing as always.

The hologram at the end was the best!!!

This next song is the theme song of NTV’s coverage of the Vancouver Winter Olympics.


Video credits to MiiSSHACHiiKO

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The popular group “Arashi” has dominated the top spots on the Oricon sales rankings of 2009, and also participated for the first time in Kouhaku Uta Gassen at the end of last year. (They have never because they usually host a countdown. This year they did both.) Including the 17th of this month during which they welcomed the last day of their national tour commemorating the 10th anniversary of their debut, they have attracted a total of 760,000 people. In what has even been called a “social phenomenon”, this is the Arashi boom with a momentum that may even surpass their senpais, SMAP. We’ve searched for the secrets to their popularity.

▼ Closeness between all five

It is the night of the 21st at a live house in Kabukicho of the Shibuya district in Tokyo. With “My Girl”, one of Arashi’s hit songs, playing, there was a cake decorated with a design in the form of Sakurai Sho (28)’s face, who was welcoming his 28th birthday on the 25th. The reason these 60 or so people – including men – have gathered is to hold a live talk about Arashi.

Making his appearance on the stage was Takeuchi Yoshikazu (54), who had been moved by their performances when he watched their concert DVD four years ago. Having also been attracted by the glimpses of their closeness on variety programs, he had become a fan without even noticing.

“I’m a man in his 50s, so I’m an oddity even based on appearance. I’ve overcome many difficulties.”

He has also established a blog on which he openly discusses Arashi with other fans. He has even received letters from older women with such contents as “So it’s fine to like Arashi too”.

A 50 year old woman from Kawagoe of the Saitama prefecture who had attended the live talk with her 23 year old daughter said with a laugh, “I like how close they seem when they’re together, like people on a school trip. The fact that they don’t brush others aside is also appealing.” An unemployed 61 year old woman from Osaka-shi who had attended the live talk in Osaka said: “The five of them are like family. They make me think ‘what nice kids’.” ( We never get tired of hearing people commenting about Arashi like this coz’ this is certainly what they are and more.)

“I used to hate Johnny’s. Then I noticed how good Arashi was and became less prejudiced towards everything,” said a 53 year old woman from the Nakano district of Tokyo. ( As for me, I like Johnny’s because I like Arashi.)

Takeuchi-san analyzes the “closeness” which everyone speaks of as such: “Our society is worn out by the recession. Perhaps we’re looking for something or other to pick us back up.” He sees it as “they’re well-behaved but not top students, with good settlement skills”. (It’s so cool how they’re so ordinary yet extraordinary.)

◆ Words from Matsumoto Jun, a member of Arashi: To be honest, there isn’t an impression of us as a social phenomenon. It makes us extremely happy just to have all sorts of different people listening to our music and watching our television shows. The number of incidents where people actually call out to me when I’m walking down a street have also increased. We get excited when we see all-male groups talking animatedly about Arashi lately too. We’re doing what we do because we want to put together concerts where the people who come to see us can genuinely enjoy themselves, so it makes us extremely happy to have so many people watching regardless of how many years it’s been.

▼ Laid-back and leisurely

There has also been a sharp increase of people bringing their children along to concerts. “It’s relieving that the concerts are fun and enjoyable like something akin to Disneyland,” says a housewife in her 40s who resides in Ichikawa-shi of the Chiba prefecture. Including children from the neighborhood ranging from grade 4 to grade 8 for a total of six people, they had their “first ever experience” last December at the Tokyo Dome concert. The children were extremely excited too, with calls of “So cool!” and “Oh man!”.

On the other hand, their long-time fans seem to have lost their bearings as well. “I’m happy to see them on so many programs, and Kouhaku was just indescribable too.” A female acupuncture specialist in her 40s from the Suginami district in Tokyo expresses joy towards their activities, but she also sighs, “I was sad that I couldn’t get tickets to their concerts. Maybe they’ve grown too hot now.” ( I know what you mean. Their tickets are so so so damn expensive. For overseas fans, Yahoo auction is the easiest solution to get tickets. Easiest being the operative word. That is if you’re willing to shell out around $400 – $1000 for the ticket. Then you have to worry about plane tickets and accommodation. Japan fans aren’t any better off, tickets sell in a couple of minutes to an hour. Oh, for the love!)

Naito Mika-san, a writer who calls herself an ikemen critic, has been a fan of Johnny’s for a very long time. “With SMAP as the first examples, other idols tend to try to look cool, but even when they make mistakes Arashi would laugh it off without taking things to heart. Their fans also feel comforted with a sense of ‘I’m fine the way I am right now’,” she says. ( Yes, they are so damn real. That’s why it’s always fun to watch them in their variety shows. They’re not afraid to make mistakes, to come off as fools and dorks. They’re idols but they can really be your best friends.)

Naito-san is currently publishing a novel on “Twitter”, a social site based upon short text submissions. “This is an era where easy to use media that allows one to go at their own leisurely pace is all the rage. Being able to offer support how they want without going overboard matches this era quite well, don’t you think?”

◆ Arashi is a male idol group belonging to the Johnny & Associates agency. Its five members include Ohno Satoshi (29), Aiba Masaki (27), Sakurai Sho (28), Ninomiya Kazunari (26), and Matsumoto Jun (26). Their CD debut took place in 1999. They took the top spots for the three categories of CD singls, albums, and music DVDs in the yearly rankings for the year of 2009 as gathered by Oricon, a music statistics company, and shone at the top with total accumulated sales as well. They also held concerts for three consecutive days at the Kokuritsu Kyogijo for the first time ever in history last year. Including individual activities, they currently have 6 regular television programs a week and 9 CM endorsements. their new song has also been chosen as a theme song in a commercial broadcast program for the Vancouver Olympics, of which Sakurai will act as one of the casters.

From Sponichi Annex – 01/30/2010

Translated by: say-it-again

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