Johnny’s lost Hiromi Go right after his “departure” in the late 70’s… “winter time” that is hard to believe now. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Johnny’s lost Hiromi Go right after his “departure” in the late 70’s… “winter time” that is hard to believe now.

Masashi Hosoda's Entertainment Space-Time Detective ⑭

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Hiromi Go supported the rise of Johnny’s as one of the “New Three Families. She is still going strong in Reiwa.

The former Johnny’s’s Office (now SMILE-UP., Inc.), whose founder’s sexual crimes and child sexual abuse came to light, has been reported by the media, who should have been complicit, with the question, “How did the Johnny’s’s Office become an ‘empire’? In an October 8 broadcast of TBS’s “Special Report,” Tetsuo Ichikawa, a former drama producer for TBS TV, stated, “The end of the ’70s was a time of great change.

The end of the 1970s was, in a sense, a period of stagnation, or rather, a winter season for Johnny’s.”

What that “winter season” was, however, is not as well known as one might think. The media did not report on it, and the details have never been made public. We would like to take this opportunity to review the details.

The reason for the “winter” of the Johnny’s office can be summed up in one word. Hiromi Go became independent.

After failing an audition for the film version of Yukio Mishima’s “Tidal Wave,” a beautiful 15-year-old boy was scouted by Janie Kitagawa, who was present at the event. It is not unusual for people from other production companies to approach unsuccessful auditionees for movies and TV dramas, and Janie Kitagawa must have gone to the audition venue with a light heart. Soon after, the boy was performing at concerts of the Four Leaves as their “little brother” and was given the name “Hiromi Go,” which was derived from the call of “Let’s Go Hiromi.

Hiromi Go made a splash with her role as Taira no Tsunemori in NHK’s 1972 historical drama “Shin Heike Monogatari,” and her debut with “Boys and Girls” in September of the same year was an explosive success, making her one of the “New Family of Three” along with Saijo Hideki and Noguchi Goro. He became one of the “New Trio” along with Hideki Nishijo and Goro Noguchi, and his success greatly enriched the office.

Two years later, Johnny’s made the decision to register and incorporate a company. Surprisingly, until then, Johnny’s had been under the umbrella of Watanabe Productions, and many people in the industry viewed it as “a section of NABEPRO. This is why Four Leaves is listed among the “past NABEPRO talents,” and why Shinichi Mori from Schoolmates is said to be “a treasured child of Janie Kitagawa,” and why Hiromi Go’s rapid success has led to his complete independence from NABEPRO.

However, a surprising event occurred at this point. Hiromi Go was transferred to Burning Productions, which had just been founded, at the same time that Janie Kitagawa was hospitalized with a duodenal ulcer. As Janie Kitagawa recalls, “Hiromi’s transfer was also a shock.

I can say that Hiromi’s transfer was also a shock. I wondered where the trust in human beings lay. I wondered where our trust in each other as managers lay. (While I was in the hospital, there was a fuss about the transfer. So, if he had not been transferred, he would have been working as a missionary again when he got out of the hospital. Conversely, if he had not transferred, I would have died.” (Gendai Business, “The Miraculous Five-Hour Interview with Mr. Janney Kitagawa,” July 10, 2019)

Anyway, the Johnny’s office, which had just set sail, entered a “winter season” after losing its biggest rower, Hiromi Go. At the time, Johnny’s had the following talents.

Four Leaves, Eiji Hatta, Natsu Toyokawa, Teruyoshi Aoi, Little Gang (Hideki Matsubara and Yasuhisa Soga), The News (Hiroshi Ogawa, Hiroshi Ikeda, Masaru Miyazaki, and Hideto Tabuchi), Byakkotai (Yoshitaka Ono, Toru Hasebe, and Tomio Iwasaki), and Johnny’s Junior Special (Toshio Itano, Masaaki Hayashi, Masahisa Hatakeyama, and Junichi Inoue).

The Four Leaves were again pushed to the top, and had hits such as “Dancing Girl” and “Bulldog,” but their sales did not explode, and their TV appearances continued to decline, with their only regular program, “Utae, Yan Yan! Yan Yan! (Tokyo 12 Channel, now TV Tokyo) was also terminated, and the group was eliminated from the NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen (Red and White Singers’ Championship), in which they had participated for seven consecutive years.

The “New Three Families” of Hiromi Go, Saijo Hideki, and Noguchi Goro remained popular, as did Shinya Hiromi Go, Michiru Shiro, Zutorubi, Finger 5, Yuma Kusagawa, and Yosuke Ookawa. After that, the “Rock Gosanke” (Shinji Harada, Char, and Masanori Sera) gained idol-like popularity and attracted the yellow cheers of female fans.

A savior suddenly appears at the Johnny’s office, which is in such a terminal condition. She is Mayo Kawasaki.

Born in Kyoto, Japan. As an elementary school student, she was scouted by composer Masaaki Hirao while impersonating Hideki Saishiro on a Kansai local amateur show, and was introduced to Janie Kitagawa. He moved to Tokyo in the second year of junior high school and joined Johnny’s office. The following year, in 1977, he made his debut with “Love Shock,” and as a member of NHK’s “Let’s Go Young” show “Sundaes,” he was very popular, which the author remembers rather vividly from his kindergarten and early elementary school years.

In his autobiography “Shonen Time Capsule” (Shinchosha), Issei Nishikori, a member of the boys’ troupe who joined the Johnny’s office in the sixth grade, recalls the following.

In 1977, there were no successful talents. (The only active group was Four Leaves, which broke up the following year. Mayo Kawasaki had just made her debut, and Toshi-chan (Toshihiko Tahara) had just joined the company the year before. The office was not busy at all.

(omission) Back then, there was a training camp in an apartment called Domi Azabu, and I would go to Mayo’s room to hang out, and when she came back, she would say, “I’m going to lie down for a bit until the late night radio, but you guys can go ahead and play. I was just a kid, so he looked like a big brother to me.

Kawazaki supported Johnny’s in the wintertime. This year, as he turns 60, the trial with his wife, Kaya, is finally coming to an end.

Despite his new position at Johnny’s, Asayo Kawasaki had been a lone hero of the Johnny’s office, consistently releasing singles such as “Blue Symbol,” “Wait Until Dark,” and “Full of Danger,” but he had never achieved explosive popularity. There is only one reason for this. The reason was that they could not “barter” (combine) with other artists.

Entertainment production companies with a large number of stars are able to make steady profits because they can easily barter their own stars with those of other companies and have them appear on the same TV shows or programs that the same producer is in charge of. It is not incorrect to say that the reason Johnny’s was able to build its “empire” in the 1980s was because of the effective use of barter.

The year 1977, when Masei Kawasaki made her debut, coincided with the heyday of the “New Gosanke” popularity. Weak professionals had no choice but to join a major professional and take advantage of their barter, but NABEPRO, Johnny’s’s “boss,” was approaching a period of slowdown.

Nabepro had just lost an all-out war with Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV), Candies, the company’s top earner, had disbanded, and influential managers such as Ken Izawa, Toru Ogi, and Yokichi Osato had moved to become independent. The decline of Johnny’s was not completely unrelated to the decline of the Japanese entertainment industry. (*For more details, please refer to my article “TV Time Space Detective (2) Revolution in the Birth of a Star” )

Shonen-tai just after their debut. Nishikori (left) and Kazuhide Uekusa (center) left the office, and Noriyuki Higashiyama (right), who remained in the office, became the president of the successor company.

It is undeniable that Johnny’s was making money by exposing boys who had not yet signed an affiliation contract with the company.

The author, who was assigned to compose the above-mentioned “Shonen Time Capsule,” was surprised to hear the sound of the interview and exclaim, “Oh my God,” because it brought back memories of an educational movie that was shown in the gymnasium for all the children in the lower grades of elementary school. That was “Sayonara Boku no Inu Rocky” (1978, Shinsei Eiga), in which Nishikori played the lead role immediately after his admission to the institute.

A boy (Nishikori) who loves dogs takes a guide dog puppy home, names him “Rocky,” and loves him. He names him “Rocky” and loves him. Every day he goes everywhere with Rocky, and the boy enjoys his life. He grows up a lot through raising dogs, but when the promised 10-month period arrives, he hands Rocky over to the guide dog association as a full-fledged dog. The boy is sad to say goodbye. Rocky becomes a fine guide dog and is useful to the sight impaired. ……”

The above is a rough outline of the story, but I vaguely remember a girl in my class who had a dog crying.

She said, “This was in the winter of the sixth grade; there were three boys, one of them. (That’s the role of the third grader. I asked Janie, ‘Can I? When you audition, you say fifth grade’ (laughs)” (statement by Issey Nishikori from “Boy Time Capsule”).

This 45-minute, 16mm film educational film is “in cooperation with the Japan Guide Dogs for the Blind Foundation. The fact that the husband of the vice president, Mary Kitagawa, was Taisuke Fujishima, a friend of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and a writer well versed in public administration, must have had something to do with the decision to have a young Nishikori boy appear in a film of this kind. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the ties between Fujishima and the political and business world, not limited to this work, “supported the Johnny’s office from the side during the winter season.

The cold winds of spring are finally blowing at Johnny’s. It is coming from Akasaka. And it came from Akasaka.

The popular long-running TBS drama “Seven Detectives,” which started in 1961, was the progenitor of today’s detective dramas, in which seven detectives in the Investigation Department of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department work on a case. When it first started, it was broadcast on Wednesday nights at 8:00 p.m., but the ratings gradually declined, and in 1978, 17 years after its start, it was moved to Friday nights at 8:00 p.m., but was replaced by the back-up programs “Taiyo ni Hoeiro! (NTV) and “World Pro Wrestling” (TV Asahi), and ended its 18-year history on October 19, 1979.

What was planned as a follow-up program was a school drama. The company wanted to get rid of the image of detective dramas, and “The Prime Minister of Yuhigaoka” (NTV) starring Masatoshi Nakamura was gaining popularity, and the budget had been overspent on “Seven Detectives”. It was there that “3 Years B Class Kinpachi Sensei” began.

Tetsuya Takeda, vocalist of the folk group Kaientai, was cast as the teacher. Kaoru Sugita and Shingo Tsurumi, both well-known child actors, were the first to be chosen to play the students, and the rest were auditioned from children’s theater companies and casting offices. Junko Mihara (now a member of the House of Councilors), who would make her breakthrough as the delinquent Reiko Yamada in “Face is Yabayo, Body is Yabayo,” actually came from a theater troupe. This is because child actors are paid less.

The Johnny’s office succeeded in pushing four student actors into auditioning for this drama. Toshihiko Tahara as Shoji Sawamura. Masahiko Kondo as Kiyoshi Hoshino. Yoshio Nomura as Yuji Kajiura. Keiko Fujishima Julie as Harumi Ochi.

Toshihiko Tahara, who is still irresistible even after his 60th birthday.

The program started out with 15-17%, which was not bad for TBS at the time, but the excellent script and the unique performance of Tetsuya Takeda, the lead actor, attracted attention, and the ratings gradually increased. Since the beginning of the year, the ratings have always been in the 20% range, and the socially controversial episode “The Birth of a Fifteen-Year-Old Mother” (broadcast on February 15 and 22, 1980), featuring Kaoru Sugita and Shingo Tsurumi, received 31.2%, and the final episode on March 28, when all the actors wept, received 39.9%, making it a very popular drama that even became a social phenomenon. What is most important here is that the drama was a social phenomenon.

What is most important here is that the drama’s popularity exploded, and at the same time, the three male students, excluding Keiko Fujishima Julie, Sawamura, Hoshino, and Kajiura, all got their big breaks. The “Tanokin Trio” was born. A newspaper article at the time reads as follows

The trio first came into the spotlight in the TBS TV series “3 years B class, Kinpachi sensei. At the time, they were known as the “bad boy trio,” but they made a big jump from the booming “school drama” series. (The “Tanokin Trio” belonged to Johnny’s, which had nurtured the Four Leaves and others, but when “3 years B class” auditioned 32 child actors to play the students, three out of the ten were chosen. (Yomiuri Shimbun, August 10, 1980)

The “3B” group was made up of 32 children who were to play the roles of the students, and when the 32 children were selected through an audition process, three out of ten were chosen. I think that the students were given an average claim to fame, and as a result, popular figures were born from the students’ side. …… For my part, I never expected that those three students would become stars.

The first spring storm, “Kinpachi,” brought the Johnny’s office back to life, which had been on the verge of freezing to death. I will discuss the subsequent success at another time, but I would like to mention one thing: Toshihiko Tahara played a tremendous role.

Among the “Sawamura, Hoshino, and Kajiura” students, the matured Shoji Sawamura exuded a unique charm not found in conventional junior high school student roles (he was 18 at the time, so he was not even a high school student), and the fact that he had never appeared in a drama as a child actor before must have given viewers something new to look forward to, After making her debut with “Aisetsu Deito,” a cover of Rafe Garrett’s “New York City Nights,” she quickly rose to the position of a top idol and led the era into the early ’90s, which should have been guaranteed by the time of “Kinpachi.

However, it was unimaginable that after more than 40 years, the empire would be so easily destroyed by the “sex-abuse report” that took the BBC’s broadcast as a surprise. However, it is not hard to accept the fact that it was a tower on the sand that suddenly appeared due to the power of the media.

After all, is it just me who feels that the rise and fall of Manchukuo is quite similar to that of Manchukuo, which was founded by the Kwantung Army under its own authority, but collapsed without a second thought when the Soviet Union entered the war?


  • Interview and text by Masashi Hosoda

    Nonfiction writer, born in 1971. His recent book, "The Man Who Let Chu Sawamura Fly the Vacuum: A Critical Biography of Showa Promoter Osamu Noguchi" (Shinchosha), won the 43rd Kodansha Honda Yasuharu Nonfiction Award.

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