In my opinion one of the most fun things to do when you’re an idol is to overanalyze and speculate about every detail of idols. Since my over-analyzations /predictions usually turn out to accurate it fuels the fire and makes me want to overanalyze things even more. Sure, there have been a few times I actually wish I wasn’t right. Like when I said Yamapi leaving wouldn’t be the end of NEWS, or when I said something wasn’t right with Arihara Kanna missing so many C-ute activities she had to be leaving soon. But just the same, it’s still fun to try to figure what’s going on, or to just think about what you wish would happen.
Lately I’ve been really thinking about things going on with Johnny’s. They were seemingly small little thoughts that I’ve just tweeted or posted on tumblr. Nothing really major. But writing my yearly ranking posts really sparked some new ideas that I wanted to talk about. None of them are big enough to get their own blog post alone, so I’m going to compile them together in one post.
1. The curious case of Nakayama Yuma:
It seems they never really knew what to do with Yuma from day 1. Nakayama Yuma was the most popular Kansai Junior, one of the most popular Juniors overall, and one of the most talented Juniors at singing. So, it was pretty obvious to the people that pulls the strings at Johnny’s that they didn’t want to waste him and could make money off of him. But it seems like they never had a clear image of what to do with him exactly. Which is why the whole Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow and NYC Boys fiasco happened in the first place.
Nakayama Yuma w/ B.I. Shadow immediately says that Yuma is a solo artist and the other members are just singing with him. Kind of like Diana Ross & The Supremes. Because Yuma got all the lines and B.I. Shadow sang harmonies. So, why not just make him a solo artist to begin with? Or why didn’t they have Yuma and B.I. Shadow form a group with a new name and equal lines? If they did that I feel like Yuma would be in a better less confusing place right now. Obviously we all know that NYC dropped the Boys, shafting poor B.I. Shadow completely, and have been releasing singles since. Which is fine no big deal. Get all that gravy money from a group made up from one of the most popular Juniors and the 2 of the most popular Hey! Say! JUMP members.
But lately another confusing piece of the puzzle came into place, Yuma made his solo debut. Yuma sang the theme for his drama Piece and released the song as a single. Does this mean they are priming Yuma up to be a solo artist? They did release his solo song, Glassno Mahou, as another A-side with NYC’s Wonderful Cupid single. So, this could mean this was the plan for Yuma all along. Because right now since he’s only part of a sub-group and not an official group. He’s in the awkward situation of having nothing to do when NYC isn’t releasing anything. He’s in that Henry and Zhoumi from Super Junior M postion. (Yeah, it’s a Kpop reference, but I’m sure most of you get it.) And if he did go solo where does that leave NYC? Sure Yuma could handle being both solo and being in NYC. But I’m unsure if Ryosuke could handle it.
Which brings me to my next point,
2. Is the most popular member’s inevitable departure the new norm?:
As you’re all aware Hey! Say! JUMP member Yamada Ryosuke is making his solo debut by releasing the theme for his drama, Mystery Virgin, as a single. This makes me both very confused and worried about Hey! Say! JUMP. For the longest time if you were a Johnny’s idol in a drama or movie your group would 9/10 times sing the theme. Regardless if you were the most popular or least popular member. Mostly because Johnny’s uses their popularity and/or exposure as pretty much free extra promotion for the group they’re in. This format added countless of single sales to groups like NEWS and KAT-TUN. And helped Arashi’s popularity skyrocket.
But having 1 member of the group promote the single puts 3/4 of the attention and exposure to that individual alone. Besides the special group Shuji to Akira (and The Monsters), to my knowledge they’ve only done this once before and that was with Akanishi Jin’s Bandage single. Yes, they’ve also done this when Yamapi’s Daite Senorita was the theme for Kurosagi, but that obviously does not count since NEWS was on hiatus at the time. And if you recall when NEWS was off hiatus NEWS’s Taiyou no Namida was used as the theme for the Kurosagi movie.
But what’s the point of having Ryosuke release this solo single? Why isn’t it a Hey! Say! JUMP single? Especially since Hey! Say! JUMP released one single in 2012 all the way back in February. Sure maybe they want to gain more money since he’s the most popular member. But isn’t it enough extra money with him being in both NYC and Hey! Say! JUMP? And they would actually make more money releasing it as a Hey! Say! JUMP, or even NYC, single. Obviously mostly Ryosuke fans are going to buy a Ryosuke single. But fans of the other 8 members of Hey! Say! JUMP, or fans of the other 2 members of NYC, are going to buy the group’s single. Which would be an increase of anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 copies. So, what’s the point of him releasing a solo single? Surely this is stretching Ryosuke really thin. Being in 2 groups at once and releasing a solo single.
This is also going scarily into NEWS and Kanjani8 territory. If you’re an idol in 2 groups at once one of the groups always suffers. One group has to be more active than the other group so the idol who is in 2 groups isn’t too tired. NEWS seemed to always be on the short end of the stick. And this year Hey! Say! JUMP is. 3 NYC singles, 1 Yamada Ryosuke single announcement, (so close to being 2012) and 1 Hey! Say! JUMP single. And please don’t say, “well they were active because they released 1 single, 1 album, and 1 concert DVD.” That is not active, that’s a bad NEWS flashback. Before Ryo and Yamapi skedaddled from NEWS they released 1 single, 1 album, and 1 DVD that year. It’s so similar it’s creepy.
So, does this mean it’s simply the most popular member’s fate anymore to leave the group and go solo? Jin and Yamapi both did it. And Jin was the only one to decide on his own. Ryosuke said his solo single came as a surprise even to him, and Johnny set up Yamapi’s meeting with Warner Music while he was still in NEWS. While I don’t see Ryosuke, or even Chinen for that matter, leaving anytime soon I do still think it’s in the cards. Because don’t forget Ryo was a member of 2 groups for 7 years before he threw in the towel. Chinen and Ryosuke have only been doing it for 3 years. And it is slightly easier on them because NYC doesn’t have their own TV shows or concerts like Kanjani8 did. At least for now anyway.
3. What’s up with Bakaleya6?:
I’ve been wondering what’s up with Bakaleya6 for a while now. Bakaleya6 is obviously made up of the Johnny’s members, minus Takaki, who were in the Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou drama. It made sense to temporarily have these guys perform together on Shounen Club or appear together on variety shows while they are promoting the drama and movie. But the drama and movie came and went, but the group doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all. They perform pretty much on every episode of Shounen Club, occasionally on Yan Yan JUMP, are lumped together in all the idol magazines, appear on more variety shows, half of them were in a Baskin Robins commercial, and some of the members are getting additional drama work. Drama work while you’re still a Junior is pretty rare. You either only get extremely small roles, or you have to be an extremely popular Junior to get a lead role. Bakaleya6 also has their own special performance at Hey! Say! JUMP’s Jump World concert and introduced Hey! Say! JUMP in the beginning of the concert. They even headlined their own summary concerts.
While I think all that is obviously awesome for them, I still can’t help but wonder what the plans for this group are. Bakaleya6 is made up of some of the most popular current Juniors, so it makes sense to keep them together as long as possible. But then why not have them debut, or at the very least make them an official Johnny’s Junior group? Currently none of them are in Junior groups. Juri and Jesse used to be in Hip Hop Jump before they disbanded. Taiga hasn’t been in a group since Kitty Jr, Shintaro hasn’t been in a group since he was in Snow Prince Gasshoudan, and Hokuto and Yugo were left groupless after Sexy Zone’s formation completely broke up B.I. Shadow. So, it makes perfect sense for them to make one. In idol magazines you have seen Bakaleya Gumi written under their names, but you never see anything written on Shounen Club.
I honestly don’t see why they are keeping them together unless they have something planned for them. In a perfect world that would be a major debut. Personally that’s what I’m hoping for. A lot of fans say that it’s impossible because the group is too new. And I honestly think that’s ridiculous. Just because groups like KAT-TUN and Kis-My-Ft2 were Junior groups for like 6 years before debuting doesn’t mean that’s the norm. Most of these Juniors have been members of Johnny’s since the members of Hey! Say! JUMP joined Johnny’s. And sometimes that doesn’t even matter. Tegoshi was only a Junior for something like 8 months before his debut and Marius wasn’t a Junior for that long either. (I have no idea the actual amount of time though. XD)
I actually think having the members debut as a group makes sense since they are well known and popular members. It would be a much more calculated debut than Sexy Zone. Besides Fuma and Kento the members of Sexy Zone were pretty unheard of before the group was announced.