Arashi confessions: getting away from Domyoji’s shadow

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:

 

arashiconfession

Source

 

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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19 thoughts on “Arashi confessions: getting away from Domyoji’s shadow

  1. Hi Yupki, indeed, Matsumoto Jun has trouble to cast off that Domyoji image. However, among Arashi, I think Matsumoto is the only one who can pull out romcom role convincingly. Sakurai Sho has serious image; Aiba Masaki can’t act (sorry!); Nino is not handsome enough (he’s cute though).

    • lol at Nino not being handsome enough but being cute hahaha
      yeah it can’t be helped that stereotyping happens. but MJ was able to prove in LUCKY SEVEN that he doesn’t need a romance plot for people to watch him… although on one hand, his chemistry with Eita boosted the drama.
      I hope to see Jun and Sho or Jun and Nino in one drama. if he further wants to push the envelope, then let it have a yaoi plot lol

  2. Lucky Seven always struck me as a Bromance between Eita and MatsuJuns’ characters that slowly morphed into an ensemble piece. I think people like Jun best when he’s aggressive in some way. I’m not sure why, but that tsundere image is quite powerful. Even fellow celebrities seem incapable of separating him from that role.

    When I was Jun-baited, I looked up his past roles and was actually surprised at some of his choices. Wasn’t he known for taking unusual roles? I understand the tsundere thing, but it’s not my favourite. His best roles for me (to date) are: Taiyou in NatsuNiji (wonderful show) and Takeshi “momo” in Kimi wa Pet. I have yet to watch all of Smile because of how painful it is…gonna try it!

    I read he would only take the HanaDan role if they let Arashi do the theme (and of course, if Oguri was Rui). In the end, the members thanked him for giving them some more work. XD I thought the beauty of Arashi was their ability to be rivals that support each other? (sorry – this comment went on way longer than I meant it to >_<)

    • no worries on the long comment. I love exchanging ideas especially when they make sense.

      I love his role in NatsuNiji, it’s him in many ways: a dork and a failure some of the time, yet earnest and passionate about the things he believes in.

      LUCKY SEVEN = bromance. you have a point haha! I also heard Eita accepted that role only because of MJ coz he was busy with other projects and perhaps that was why his character had to go missing in some episodes (which wasn’t as interesting as when Nitta and Shuntaro were there bickering). this makes me want to rewatch LS lol

      SMILE… oh so painful. but it shows how MJ nailed the role except it drove away viewers coz they can’t stand being sorry for him haha

      thanks for dropping by and commenting!

      • I always thought that too! NatsuNiji seemed really natural and the romance was surprisingly affecting (if you’re me).
        No worries! Actually, this is one of those blogs where I found it and read everything I could. Think this was my first comment though, heh. Love your blog! ^_^ I’ll definitely stop by more.

  3. Doumyouji… ahhh I became an arashi fan, because of him. It was weird because before HYD, I didn’t like Johnny’s and when I heard a few years ago that Matsumoto Jun took the role of Doumyouji Tsukasa, I was mad xDD… I used to read the manga years ago and I thought he was chosen only because of Arashi. It took me some weeks to find out that actually Arashi’s breaking point was HYD. I watched the dorama just to write in my blog against it… but I was junbait xDDD… His performance was amazing. I’ve seen most of Jun’s works, and I really like the way he asumes challenges. I love him in Smile, Gokusen, Tokyo Tower, Bambino, Boku wa Imouto ni Koisuru (or something like that), Kimi wa petto, Lucky Seven and of course HYD. Natsuniji was not fair.. It doesn`t seem like he’s acting… He seems to be himself… But I`m not really enthusiastic about Hidamari no Kanojo. Of course I will become a crazy fan in october, but for some reason, I’m not into it. Hope numbers will be good enough, but I guess it’s time for him to change again. He has proved anyone that he can do any role he wants. He has become an amazing actor since V no Arashi so I will still look forward his job.

    On the other hand, I’ve lent a friend – who is not into the J World – some doramas from Jun. And I was surprised, because, even though she likes HYD, she prefers him as Momo. Step by Step, she will become an Arashisuto xDDD

  4. Hello again~! 😀 I liked how you say that the boys “are one another’s biggest rivals.” I totally AGREE. And I don’t think MatsuJun’s role in HYD was a mistake though… :/ It was interesting and i still enjoy the drama now! and it’s been years! Hahaha! And yeah, hahaha, it was cuz of HYD that I found Arashi 😀 It was just my extremely good luck to stumble upon their Arashi Around Asia concert videos online! And i was totally hooked on them! HAHAHAHA XD Luv them!

    I love Jun’s acting the most actually, among the 5 of them, even though i don’t rly enjoy his wild sexy side hahaha in his solos. I loved him in Lucky Seven, The Last Princess and Kimi wa Petto! And he looked rly young and cute in Gokusen, although the drama wasn’t rly my type, but ohwell, Oguri Shun was there too:P

    With Sho and Ohno, they have strange roles too! Like, i would never have expected a grown idol to act as Kaibutsu-kun! Leader is a great actor in strange roles hahaha. there was also Kagi o kakatta Heya or something, that was pretty cool to watch(: and off course, Sho’s current role in Kazoku Game is quite weird too, but we love it yeah?(;

    Thanks for the great post once again! Just thought i’ld drop by and say Hi(:

    • thanks for commenting!

      I think there’s a slight misunderstanding lol I did not say HYD or playing Domyoji was a mistake. the point I was trying to make is, the role was so iconic it had stuck to him to this day. but there are more pros than cons to Domyoji. It opened a huge door for Arashi, for one.

      I am curious about LOCKED DOOR because I have heard many good reviews about it. and yeah, I am so enjoying Sho in KAZOKU GAME. he is just creepy but hilarious.

  5. I’m an Ohno-baited actually, but I admit that Jun is one of my fave Japanese actors. It may be surprising that my fave Jun drama is Smile, I appreciate Jun for taking such a challenging role that’s very different from his real self (but what’s Jun real self? I think he’s merely a shy boy :P). Oh yes, I love Hana Yori Dango even tho romance drama is not something I usually watch but with such good cast and well-built script, well… it’s more than just an ordinary romantic. That’s why I don’t watch natsuniji because yeah… it’s too typical for me (Jun has acted some roles who fall for older women before, so… sorry Jun). If I have to pick the 2nd best, probably it’s Bambino! or his 24hr TV SP drama in 2008. As for Lucky Seven, the role is growing on me, but I guess I want Jun taking more challenging roles which may not be popular yet carry a deeper message like Vito. Yeah, all depends on the script anyway.
    I realized that lately Jun is not so DoS anymore (people have many theories for this) but I think rather that get rid of his Domyouji image it’s because he has settled something, I guess?
    I agree that Jun pick his roles more carefully, so we see how Nino has more drama than him in the past.
    Eh? Horikita Maki is also in The Last Princess? I thought Jun only worked with her in Wagaya no Rekishi? My bad. I love his role there as Yoshio btw 😉

    • yes, Horikita Maki was the PRINCESS hahaha! sorry, I know it’s not meant to be funny but I just find this amusing XD

      hmmm I would love to hear your theory on why Jun has mellowed from his DoS self. settled something… like what? you got me curious here because I also have my own, well, theory if you may lol

      my fave Jun drama is LUCKY SEVEN. I’m shallow, I know hahaha but I just love his chemistry with Eita. and though I was Jun-baited through HYD, I’m not really big on that drama except for him and Shun. and yes, Shota! I love BAMBINO and SMILE but I wish I have more strength to watch the entire series without flinching but it only shows how Jun is convincing in his underdog roles as much as he is convincing as the DoS. I quite like his character development in NATSU NIJI and while the role may not have been a far stretch from who he is in real life, I love how the character developed over the episodes.

      thanks for commenting!

      • Wasn’t the princess Nagasawa Masami? o.O I’m pretty sure she’s the princess…

        well, I guess he’s already get over with his rebellion stage? not to mention that arashi is also well-shaped recently, like their success w/ concert at all? and maybe age does have influence in him to be calmer (also the fact that he worked with more various people and older people)? well I think it’s related to many aspects, but I do feel that Jun finally get hold of himself lately, like he already found ‘the truly him’ (haha, I can’t explain it well, sorry).

      • omg the joke is on me HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! oh for shame!!! all the while I was watching it, I really thought it was Maki! and even when I was looking at movie stills. ah sou, it’s Nino’s ex! gomenasai lol now I’m even more amused!!!

        yeah I do agree with your theory on why MJ has shed his DoS personality. he has grown up. all five of them went through adjustments, just that him and Sho were the most noticeable because of their rebellious phases.

        okay, I still can’t get over how I thought all this time that it was Maki in that bloody PRINCESS movie. imagine, it took me FIVE bloody YEARS to realize that?! lol lol lol

  6. Pingback: THE LAST PRINCESS: Maki or Masami? | my asian pop of tea

  7. I was one of the rare ones then I guess. I was Jun-Baited through Gokusen with Jun as Shin Sawada (Because I read the Manga and wanted to see how it worked on screen). I didn’t get to Hana yori dango until much later.

  8. It’s been a few months since this article was posted, but I’ll comment anyway.

    First off, thank you for writing this. I’ve encountered some comments from so-called Arashi fans who seem to take pleasure in ragging on Jun. I admit to getting annoyed at times (not so much by the claims but by how mindless some fans can be), but once the annoyance ebbs, I find myself muttering what the heck.

    I love those five Arashi bakas for different reasons but in equal measure, though if forced, I’d most likely choose Jun as my ichiban and blame it on me being a Hanadan fangirl.^^ As a fan of Jun the actor first and Jun the idol second, I’m extremely glad and proud of the career choices he’s made since Hanadan. I’m glad and proud that he’s made the conscious effort to grow as an actor by taking on roles that are very different from Domyoji, even if doing so meant losing some fans along the way. I’m glad and proud that neither has he rested on his laurels nor has he allowed himself to be boxed in for the sake of popularity. I hope that he’ll continue challenging himself and us fans by taking on even more challenging roles/projects. He may (and will) alienate some people in the fandom, but I’m sure those who appreciate his talent and his dedication to his craft will stick with him all throughout his journey.

    My football friends always say that form is temporary, class is permanent. I’d like to paraphrase that: popularity is temporary, talent is permanent. Jun may not be at the top of the popularity pole now, but he’s certainly a heck of a class act.

    • Sorry for the late reply, but I wanted to sit down and properly think through my response on such a very enlightening comment. I like your point on alienating some members of the fandom and how popularity is fleeting, something that many of us fail to acknowledge or take into consideration when thinking of Arashi as entertainers.

      I know that as fans, we can’t be blind and just follow and support everything that our idols do. And I suppose those so-called fans who take the chance to diss Jun, or any of the Arashi member for what they “perceive” as “wrong career choices”, feel they are within their rights to speak their minds. Well, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion.

      But what really gets to me is when they mindlessly whine and complain without weighing the options. Case in point: the reaction to Arashi hosting Kouhaku again. I get it that some would want to see them in JCD once more or that they feel it’s the same thing over and over. But the point is, isn’t appearing on JCD an old routine as well? I just feel that comments like “how boring” or “it’s them again?!” are so careless. I’m sure Arashi and JE have considered the pros and cons of hosting the NHK show, and if I were to believe speculations, they are tied to a five-year contract to host the show. Besides, between JCD and Kouhaku, I would say Kouhaku–nevermind how “boring” it is to many fans–offers more credibility to Arashi. Not to mention that it allows them to reach a wider audience outside the JE fandom. You know, those who are not fangirls and fanboys who only want to watch them in their sparkly attires and camwhore to the fans’ content.

      Saying that, however, I don’t really expect fans to be long-term in their thinking anyway. What matters in pop culture is the here and now. But Arashi ain’t teenyboppers anymore. Hosting Kouhaku, taking on more mature and challenging roles, raising the level of entertainment in their shows (Waku Waku for one) are all efforts for them to grow up. And the least we can do as fans is support them. We don’t have to like what they do all the time, they can’t please us all anyway. But we have to respect their choices, deshou?

    • I couldn’t help and reply to your comment coz I totally agree with it.. I am also Jun-baited because of Hanadan and Gokusen. After watching the 2 dramas, I felt like that didn’t satisfy me because I want more of him. I fell in love with the role and fell in love with his acting. At first, I find him not so good looking for the Domiyouji Tsukasa role and I find him annoying (well, based on the manga, he should really be that annoying at first) but eventually while watching him further to the next episodes, his acting moved me. Then I watched him in Gokusen which is he is really good looking there because he is younger and his role is cooler.. But after watching those dramas, I researched and found Bambino, and I loved it too. Then in Kimi wa Petto and so on..
      I read from one review, that “everything Matsumoto Jun touches turns to gold” (meaning every role or drama he chooses is superb or usually turns out excellent..) and I agreed with it. I don’t care about the numbers or the ratings, I care about the substance the dramas has to offer, and that will only be justified by the actors playing in the dramas. Matsumoto Jun is a man of Quality and class.

      • Jun’s drama/film role choices have always fascinated me. how can Domyouji go from Bambino then Smile? I have to say though that while his Souta in SHITSUREN CHOCOLATIER is my least fave of all his screen roles, he was very effective in the role of a lovestruck character I wanted to smack his head all the time lol

  9. I was not any member-baited into Arashi, it was others things that led me into them. But anyway, I was trying to turn my sister into an Arashi fan, so I showed her Maou, and she fell in love with Ohno. But then I showed her Hana Yori Dango, and she was like I LOVE JUN!!!! I do think that the members are not popular because of Arashi, Arashi is popular BECAUSE of its members.

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