Who among us spent new year’s eve with five dorks and a TV? (Or a gadget or computer if you were streaming.) This is how it’s been for the past five years for many of us (family and friends aside) since Arashi was given the honor to host Kohaku, the traditional musical year-end show on NHK and Japan’s biggest year-end show (if you don’t get invited, you don’t count).
Their Kohaku stint was a great way to end what has been a good year for Arashi. No, make that a great year, despite their protestations to celebrate their 15th year in a “low-key” way contrary to their 5×10 celebrations. They had Waku Waku School for the fourth year in a row, ARASHI BLAST IN HAWAII (returning to their “birth place”); released ARAFES ’13 and LOVE Live Tour DVDs/BDs, three singles (Bittersweet, GUTS! and Daremo Shiranai) and Digitalian album; and went on the Digitalian 5-Dome Live Tour.
They were also named Oricon’s Artist of the Year for topping overall sales this year, despite how over the years they haven’t succumbed to multiple marketing (i.e. gazillion versions of their CDs/DVDs/BDs; it’s always just been two versions: regular and limited).
Looking at their sales numbers, one can see that their peak was in 2010. It’s been five years since and yet they have managed to stay at the top despite continuous challenges like new idols emerging, the market becoming more competitive and copyright problems. Of course, the Oricon numbers would be higher if only they take into account international sales (they should really include this as a separate category). So being artist of the year is really something to be proud of (and celebrate with ramen, because that’s how they celebrate their milestones LOL) given all these circumstances.
In fact, it’s really an exceptional bonus for Arashi, 15 years since their debut, to still be able to top Oricon charts and sell out concerts (don’t even get me started on the ridiculous auction prices), plus have their fan club numbers continue to go up (1.65 million as of last count). Being an FC member is a foot into the door, though not exactly assuring you entry to the Arashi fiefdom.
Yet despite their achievements, Arashi remain very down-to-earth, still the same dorks except they don’t do nipple shirts nor stocking man anymore (can’t do that in golden time, can you?).
And that is why I love them because they haven’t been trapped in their fame and I guess the best proof of that is how their senpais and colleagues in the industry only have good words for them. In Kohaku, I was teary eyed when Okada and Inocchi were introducing them for their 2014 Thanks Medley, with the rest of their senpais, among them TOKIO, behind. It’s heartwarming the love that they get from these senpais and industry colleagues.
And I just have to insert this because one of my favorite moments from MUSIC STATION SUPER LIVE 2014 was the Arashi x X Japan interaction. Jun and Sho were obviously fanboying the metal band when the two groups stood side by side in the introduction. During their performance, Jun and Aiba also did the X pose with Yoshiki-san retweeting a fan’s tweet on it and tweeting below as a perfect bonus:
Too bad Arashi is not on social media to see this but I’m sure their staff monitor SNS. Jun himself let slip a few times that he checks on what fans are talking about on the Internet (thus he clarified about the fanlights that they used in the Digitalian Tour in his Enjoy corner).
But I digress.
The love that Arashi gets from their senpais and people they work with is just heartwarming not only because it proves how well-liked they are but that they remain down-to-earth. Didn’t an advertiser say that they prefer working with Arashi, though they are more expensive, than another idol group because “they are easy to work with”. Their senpais still make fun of them on variety shows and they are game to roll with it.
And the fact that their senpais do not begrudge them of their success, even if it has exceeded theirs, speaks volume on how their fame has not gotten into their heads. No one likes cocky idols.
Not to say that they don’t deserve it. Nothing was ever given to Arashi. For free or easily. They had to work hard for everything. Sure, everyone else works hard but sometimes it takes being at the right place at the right time. For Arashi, it took them
- eight years to perform at Tokyo Dome
- nine years to perform at the National Stadium (Kokuritsu)
- 10 years to get invited to Kohaku.
They never had it easy so I hope people also won’t take it against Arashi fans for being proud of this because they waited, without complaint and just worked quietly, and we all waited and supported them throughout late night shows and crazy science experiments, Jun’s hair phases, Sho’s hobo phase and the “scandals”.
So perhaps the secret to their staying power is because it hasn’t been easy come, easy go for them. One never takes for granted those things that were never easy because you know that with a single flick of the finger, it can all be gone. I’m sure Arashi knows this more than anyone else. And that is why too, I don’t think any of them would be foolish to do unprofessional stunts, like that rumored “Kohaku announcement” for example (sorry not sorry, I couldn’t resist it). They know the stakes at hand and it’s not just about five of them; they have staff and people depending on them, fans aside. They have grown into such a big and powerful franchise they won’t be the only ones who’d suffer if they commit missteps.
I’m not saying they are perfect (they aren’t) and are not capable of any follies (again, the “scandals”), or that they don’t have the right to personal happiness. I wish them to be happy of course, but anyone who follows Arashi knows how private they are and how there is a distinct line between their work and their private lives. They don’t mix the two, that’s how much they value and respect their work, and protect whatever privacy is left for them.
Now, with the new year comes the anticipation for their 2015 activities. Of course, fans are awaiting the release of the BLAST IN HAWAII DVD/BD (Jun banchou, you said so!) and Digitalian Live Tour. There are rumors of dramas for Aiba and Sho (last year, we had Jun, Nino and Riida dramas; and Sho and Aiba movies). Nino’s movie to be released end of this year has been confirmed. Sho, Aiba and Nino have their own variety shows. Many of us are still wishing for Jun to get a cooking show. Riida? Let him fish. And maybe a new album and a tour?
It may be difficult to fangirl Arashi when it comes to concert tickets and FC rules and issues, but it sure is fun and rewarding. And when I watch them having fun with what they do, I feel satisfied. It’s enough for me to see them happy and enjoying their work. They don’t have to be on social media and
nauseate spoil us with too much information about their personal lives and whereabouts. It’s enough they work hard for us already through their variety shows, dramas, films, albums and concerts. And every time their senpais acknowledge them and the industry recognizes their efforts, it’s even more satisfying knowing that they didn’t take the short cut to achieve that.
Otsukare Arashi-san for 2014 and ganbaremasu for 2015!
Happy new year my fellow Arashians!
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