“Being famous is really such a huge responsibility.”
That was Colleague P one afternoon while we were having mojitos in a bistro. I had just shown her a video of Arashi’s performance in last year’s Kouhaku. I couldn’t help but agree.
“That’s true. But many of these stars are just in it for the fame, vanity and money. They don’t give back to society, much more, do some charity.”
I showed her a video of Arashi visiting one of the areas vastly affected by the Great East Japan earthquake in 2011 and the free concert that they gave to the residents there to cheer them up. I looked on proudly as she watched the video, at one point asking “what’s this boy doing here?” (referring to Nino) and “is it just me or the Japanese are more good-looking than *dot-dot-dot*?”. Colleague P’s exposure to East Asia’s pop culture has been limited to fleeting glimpses of dramas on Arirang.
Aside from Colleague P, I also had been recently talking about Arashi with one of my friends from another fandom. I tell them about Arashi, not so much as to bait them, but because I just have to share the wonderful world that is full of baka-ness, kakkoi-ness and some popcorn.
But how does one begin to tell someone about Arashi?
One can choose to impress and awe and go right into their amazing concerts.
Or how they cater to… kids.
And just as much as they have fangirls…
They also have fanboys.
Or one can go back to where it all began when they looked like this:
And how they look like now:
Just kidding… but seriously, Arashi can be anything from bakas doing experiments on TV in their early days when they thought no one was watching them in those late night variety but they had fun anyway (KimuTaku was one of those who watched and enjoyed their old shows by the way)…
… and still be bakas on TV when they are already on primetime, and still have fun.
Are idols even supposed to be like this and wear nipple shirts and stockings on TV?
Someone who’s used to perfect idols, with the hair and every pore intact (mostly thanks to plastic surgery), would surely not get what Arashi is all about. Aside from being untouched by cosmetic surgery–except dental work in Matsujun’s case–and if one has doubts, just look at their bad skin in close-ups during their variety shows as proof, these boys are not afraid to look foolish and laughed at even at their stature now that sometimes I wonder if they are comedians, more than idols.
“That’s so lame!”
Someone told me that when I talked about Arashi’s old shows–I forgot whether it was C, D or G no Arashi, but one of my favorite episodes was when Matsujun and Ohno dressed up in prince costumes to see if they can enter an “exclusive royal club” and were naturally perplexed when they were turned away.
But see, that is why Arashi is special, because they can be bakas and they can be kakkois, or if you may, “normal”, like this:
In short, they’re never boring.
To those new to Arashi, or any idol group for that matter, the usual first comment would be…
They all look the same, how can you tell one from the other?
Let’s start with Nino, the “little boy” because truthfully, out of the five of them, he’s the one who looks the same from then and now. This little boy is in fact a bonafide Hollywood actor, who appeared in Clint Eastwood’s LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, and continues to make movies and impress audience with his acting.
Then there’s Arashi’s leader, Ohno, who is the oldest among them but can still look like a little boy himself, and play little boy roles like Kaibutsu-kun. And yes, he’s an artist and… a fisherman.
There’s Aiba, who kids love so much they call out to him on the streets without any honorific. He loves animals, has a happy disposition and co-hosts an animal show. The resident Ai-baka, he takes the lead in their classic science experiments.
Then there’s Keio boy himself, the future prime minister of Japan, Sho. Oh, he also used to chase fangirls away with an umbrella. Aside from being the resident rapper, he’s also a newscaster. Not to mention favorite celebrity that girls want to be their teacher or boyfriend in those periodic surveys.
Then of course, there is Domyouji himself, the group’s resident sex symbol, perennial prince charming and occasional action star, Jun. He is also the resident concert director.
They have their own drama work and TV shows outside of Arashi, and no, they don’t look the same nor are they of the same mold. They have different personalities it’s a wonder that they get along and work so well together. Perhaps one of the secrets is how, as mentioned by Aiba, they occupy the same place in any dressing room and do their own thing without bothering one another. In short, they give one another space. Not to say they don’t disagree because as Matsujun said before, they do have differing opinions but they talk–and not argue–their way around it.
In other words, Arashi is not your usual factory-issued idol group, which to a certain extent is ironic, coming from a homogeneous society like Japan. But then again, while they have a strong sense of individuality as members, they also have a strong sense of group. It’s not the fans who love Arashi the most. It’s Arashi themselves.
And how many idol groups could claim that they had their faces on airplanes…
Or had one of their country’s famous landmarks lighted in their colors and honor?
They have struggled through the years they deserve every ounce of success they enjoy now. And yet, despite all that fame, they still remain the same bakas.
Having fun together…
Doing their civic duties together, like in the 2011 Great East Japan disaster…
And just being themselves.
And that’s what Arashi is. One doesn’t have to be a fan, but all you need is just to take a look at their story and one will understand why these boys are special.
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