I have a confession to make: it makes me sad when Arashi fans compare the members especially in terms of popularity, as if they were rivals. Just like in this Arashi confession on tumblr:
I’m sure the one who made that confession meant it in a good way. And though we always say that we love all of Arashi, our biases can’t help but show at times, and that’s why we have an ichiban, niban and so on and so forth. And yet, we all love them. I know how complicated that sounds to others but I get it.
And it can’t be helped if the boys are compared to one another. They are at the prime of their careers at the moment, whether as a group and individually. They are on CMs, dramas, TV shows, charts etc. It’s not surprising either that they figure in surveys, whether it’s ideal boyfriend, dream husband or even one you want to eat soba with, or whatever ridiculous surveys there are. They are one another’s biggest rivals. But let’s leave the competition part to the surveys, shall we? Because though they do their own work individually, each Arashi member still carries the brand wherever they go–even if it’s newscast or Hollywood. They’re a unit and when they are on their own, they represent that unit. So it should not be a cause for argument on who is more popular because each of their popularity reflects back on the group.
Now back to Jun. Taking on the iconic role of Domyoji was both a breakthrough and a risk. The breakthrough part, we saw how it brought him popularity that eventually led back to Arashi. I mean, how many Arashi fans were Jun-baited? But that’s also the risk for playing such a role, because you’re not remembered for your performance but for the role (and the pairing that came with it). For an actor, that looks like a dead end. And that is why, efforts of Jun to get away from that is commendable, although it took him quite long to do so, what with part 2 of the drama and a movie version. And even then, he hasn’t and couldn’t get away from it fully. Many still remember him as Domyoji, especially when he shows his DoS tendencies.
I also don’t see the roles he took post HYD as mistakes. If they were, hopefully, he’d have learned lessons from them. At the same time, mistakes tell us what works and what doesn’t, deshou? And even if they didn’t work, resulting in low ratings, there were gains he certainly made in terms of cred. BAMBINO may have been painful to watch, especially after coming from HYD, and then there he was being bullied onscreen. It was a chance he took and unfortunately, not many liked it. But it gave him a chance to work with senior actors and widen his acting range. The same goes for SMILE, and this drama was an even bigger risk because it tackled a social problem that we otherwise pretend does not happen because it makes all of us racists. But his role softened his otherwise public image of being a DoS, as well as gave him more acting depth. To an actor, that’s what’s important; to a fan, what’s important are the numbers, unfortunately.
Before SMILE, Jun was already pushing the envelope, trying to get away from the flower boy image by doing THE LAST PRINCESS with Hiroshi Abe and
Hirokita Maki Masami Nagasawa (truth be told, if not for @justfever pointing it out, I would have gone on thinking it was Maki in that movie and not the brat’s ex, like what I have been thinking in the last five years; to think I even watched the film, saw the photo stills and still believed it was Maki. Either they look alike or something’s wrong with me, but I had a good laugh about it.) Nowhere in that film do we see the glamorous, kakkoi Matsujun from Arashi, nor the prince from HYD. Jun’s movie roles have struck me as unconventional considering that he has under his belt the incest movie I LOVE MY SISTER and the younger-man-older-woman TOKYO TOWER. That’s why I’m looking forward to SUNNY SPOT GF because it looks “normal” from all the rest.
Though to be honest, I hope he will veer away from romance plots. Sure, he’s Arashi’s resident prince charming, but I’d like to see him more in projects similar to LUCKY SEVEN where he doesn’t have to rely on a romantic pairing. I have to mention NATSU NIJI though because the plot was something different and his role as Taiga had so much meat and character development, but for one reason or other, people did not want to watch him in there. Perhaps if it was Nino, it would have worked? (Not to mention the brat would have been over the moon for appearing with his ultimate crush.)
Of the five, Jun had the most challenge to get away from an onscreen persona. Not to say the others did not take on roles that made an impact on the public, but let’s face it, many became aware of Arashi because of HANA YORI DANGO and Domyoji and that DoS brat was and still is such a hard shadow to shake off. So say, we just support Jun–and each and every member–in testing their limits as performers? It doesn’t really matter who is more popular because at the end of the day, they bring the lessons and gains back to Arashi.
I’d like to have some GREEN label, onegaishimasu.
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