“So what if they copied Arashi? No one knows Arashi anyway outside Japan.”
I find it amusing every time people say Arashi is known “only in Japan” It reminds me of that phrase “Big in Japan” to refer to those fads that are well known only in the Land of the Rising Sun but not anywhere else in the world. Yes, they are big in Japan they even have their faces plastered on the aircraft of the flag carrier.
But well, I don’t live in Japan and neither do a whole lot of Arashi fans. But I don’t take it against those who don’t know Arashi, like you know, fans of Katy Perry (butthurt after her latest album did not debut on top of the world charts because of this “unknown Japanese group” whose songs the world doesn’t even understand and yet managed to capture the No. 1 spot). I don’t know a whole lot of Hollywood actors myself. Let’s face it, the world does not revolve around Japan, but it does not revolve around the US of Aeehhh nor South Korea.
Sometimes it’s fun to snark though and I do admit to doing that on Twitter every now and then… yes, I’m looking at you @VyLeTtE070111. Sometimes it’s scary to think that Nino’s snarkiness is contagious. But it’s better to apply humor when dealing with antis than be defensive.
Sure, they’re big only in Japan but they sell millions in CDs and DVDs, crashing CDJapan and other online sites when preoder comes along. They don’t even have to do fan meetings and handshake events just so they could sell their albums or DVDs. And if you are sleeping by the time the preorder happens, don’t even hope to still be able to buy the Limited Edition online when you finally wake up. And don’t bank on having other editions coming out in the future because JStorm doesn’t do various versions of the same product… you know, “same same but different”? That’s totally uncool.
Yes, they’re big only in Japan but hey, imagine if they promoted themselves outside their country, what the sales would be like? If they put as much effort in reaching out to potential markets in the US, South America and yes, China? Not that the Chinese don’t know them based on the Arashi presence on Weibo but if they start to be active in that part of the world… just think of that.
Sadly though, that hasn’t happened not because of geopolitics but simply because even in Japan alone, Arashi could barely meet the demand for concerts. And they are not just idols who sing and dance, they are actors too, and in the case of Sho, a newscaster. If they go overseas, Nino won’t have time to play his games, Jun can’t meet his friends for a drink, Riida can’t go fishing, Aiba can’t do those crazy experiments and Sho can’t plan his vacations by the minute. They have private lives too, you know, and they barely even have time to live outside their idol selves. And I wouldn’t want them to be deprived of the things that make them happy because a happy Arashi shows in the work that they do.
So that’s how big they are in Japan they can’t even think of going overseas… yet. And that’s a big woe for international fans who don’t have a chance to join the lottery for concert tickets and compete with 1.5 million official members of the fan club, unless of course they join online biddings and sell their arm, leg and liver, together with their house and car. So big only in Japan? That may be true, and me thinks their rivals prefer it that way otherwise their rice bowls will be taken away from them.
“They look like commoners.”
I don’t think one became a fan of Arashi because they look like gods. At least that’s true for me.
Yes, I was baited by Domyouji-sama but what reeled me in was the group dynamics. It was never about how goodlooking they are because let’s face it, they aren’t. That reporter Charlene Chua (yes, I will never forget the name) would be very happy to volunteer that Jun has “orange peel skin”; she hasn’t seen Riida’s facial scar yet by the way, or Sho’s large forehead and the infamous nadegata (sloping shoulders). But well, what can I say, that’s nature, not thank you, doctor.
Besides, a handsome face or flawless legs can only get you as far. But personalities, they sustain you. And we’ve got loads of that in Arashi. And mind, not the agency-manufactured kind. Perhaps at the beginning, the agency tried to look into their personalities and capitalized on those differences, just like what HK pointed out in a previous comment here. But over the years, the members started to grow into their roles as they became more comfortable with one another and began to adjust to the pros and cons of being idols. So you’ve got a leader who looks like he’s half asleep all the time but the members won’t have it any other way; a de facto leader who takes care of the group like a mother; a middle child who keeps the balance in the group with his cheerfulness; the bratty one who defends the group in his own snarky way; and the youngest one who takes the responsibility of keeping the group focused.
This article looking at the “Arashi social phenomenon” tweeted by @FindAiba gives an idea why fans like Arashi, aside from the fact that it shows their wide appeal across age groups — from kids to pre-teens to grandpas and grandmas. One comment from that article really rings true with me: “They don’t act like celebrities, they act like your friends.”
So yes, the appeal of Arashi is that they look like those regular guys you might bump into in a coffee shop or the bookstore or even at the supermarket. Or the train, if you just properly pay attention, because they themselves talk on taking the public transport and no one noticed them. Maybe because they look too regular? But how can one overlook Sho’s nadegata or Jun’s eyebrows and think they’re just regular commuters? But I like stories like this because that means they are able to live normal lives with their “regular faces” (that earn them millions of yen, if I may say so) and I’m sure they wouldn’t have it any other way.
“They don’t act like idols.”
Ah. But I consider that as a compliment considering how the Asian entertainment industry is packed with perfectly packaged idols with their flawless complexion and their carefully managed public images. Not to say that Arashi doesn’t have an OC management team behind it making sure that no scandal comes out that would affect the group. Each of them had their share of scandals from sex, alleged drug use and heavy smoking mostly courtesy of
Psycho Cyzo. Aside from being met with the usual humor and snark by Arashi fans, those scandals–whether true or not–only served to prove that these boys are human so get on with it.
So to say that they don’t behave like idols is something that I love hearing to be honest simply because I don’t want them to be like idols. The charm of Arashi is that they don’t even know how big they are and still get surprised at the number of albums and DVDs they sell or the fact that they can crash servers during an Interactive part of a live show. I don’t think it’s false humility because that’s how they have always been, self-deprecating, even during the time they were performing in half-filled auditoriums and falling off old stages. (Or who knows, it’s an old psychological scar inflicted on them for being treated as the Johnnys-least-likely-to-succeed.)
This Nikkei article looks at how Arashi can serve as an HR manual considering their personality differences that come to fore during their variety shows. Another article discusses at how the group can serve as a model for team management. Taking off from the second most common comment on Arashi above, it’s not the looks but their different personalities that make the group special. For sure, other groups also have this. But instead of being the cause for internal conflict, their differences complement each other and serve to strengthen Arashi even more.
At the end of the day, I fangirl Arashi not because they look like those idols that populate the industry but because their songs give that positive vibe we all need in large doses and they make me laugh and think that it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you stand up, brush yourself up and carry on. They may be regular looking and act like clowns more than idols, but hey, they’re not just big in Japan, but they’re big in every Arashi fan’s heart, as cheesy as that may sound.
And the rest of the world doesn’t know what it’s missing.
© Orange Jasmine Purple Yam (blogging since 2001). Unauthorized use and/or duplication of the contents in this site without permission from the author/owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Orange Jasmine Purple Yam with appropriate link to the original content.