Kazuya Ninomiya looks back on the “10 years” of “Arashi’s” disappointing period of independence. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Kazuya Ninomiya looks back on the “10 years” of “Arashi’s” disappointing period of independence.

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I will continue to be a member of Arashi from tomorrow.”

On October 24, Kazuya Ninomiya of Arashi made a surprise announcement of his independence. What worried not only fans but also many others was what would happen to Arashi. In his announcement, he said, “I will continue to be a member of Arashi from tomorrow onward,” and he made it clear that he would remain a member of Arashi even after his independence.

Although the group is currently on hiatus, everyone agrees that Arashi is a group that represents not only the former Johnny’s office but also Japan. However, it is a well-known fact that Arashi has experienced a period of “bad times,” a time when it took a long time for the group to become a full-fledged seller, rather than a national idol group.

Kazunari Ninomiya, who has stated that he will continue to be a member of Arashi even after becoming independent, said, “I will continue to be a member of Arashi from tomorrow onward.

There were many months when all I had to do was work on the radio and in idol magazines…

Nevertheless, their debut song “A・RA・SHI” in ’99, in which the group name is called out repeatedly at the end of the chorus, was well known by many people and sold close to one million copies in total. The press conference held in Hawaii to announce the group’s debut on a cruiser also left a vivid impression. Many may wonder, “Hasn’t it been smooth sailing ever since its debut?” However, since then, the debut song has not sold well.

However, since then, the sales of their debut song have been only a little more than one-third of the original sales. Concerts were not sold out, which is unthinkable nowadays, and the members appeared in dramas, but these did not lead to big hits.

Ninomiya once recalled on his radio program that there were many months after their debut when all he had to do was work on the radio and in idol magazines.

When all the members appeared on NHK’s “SONGS” in 1919, they each revealed that they were anxious about this unfavorable period.

Launch of the independent label “J Storm”…but single sales numbers continued to decline.

A major turning point for Arashi came in 2001, the third year of their debut. In November of that year, the independent label “J Storm” (to be renamed “Storm Labels” in January 2012) was launched. As the name “Storm = Arashi” suggests, the company, to which various groups now belong, was initially established as Arashi’s private label.

The members themselves were uneasy about moving from a major label to an indie label, and in the aforementioned “Songs,” Masaki Aiba recalls, “I thought it meant we had no prospects.

The first single after the transfer, “a Day in Our Life,” sampled the intro to Shonen-tai’s hit song “ABC” and used it as a breakbeat, with a rap part running throughout the song. The album was also sold at the low price of 500 yen without any coupling songs.

The song was also used as the theme song for the drama “Kisarazu Cat’s Eye,” and although the drama was a hit, sales of the single were flat before the transfer, and the number of copies sold actually went downhill after that.

The drama “Boys Over Flowers” was a hit, but sales of the theme song “WISH” were not… and there were times when fans debated how Arashi could sell.

However. Was it a reopening or some kind of willfulness? J Storm released ” Pika☆unchLIFE IS HARD but HAPPY,” a movie starring the five members of Arashi, as its own movie in ’02. In the late-night slot, the company’s flagship program “C no Arashi! (Nippon TV), which became a hit with some viewers for its physical projects throughout the series.

The series was a time when the group impressed with its subcultural activities and light footwork, which were possible because of its deviation from the orthodox Japanese idol sales style, such as hip-hop and late-night variety shows.

Despite the “subculture,” he was still active in the mainstream, starring in Matsumoto Jun’s “Gokusen” (2002, Nippon TV) and in Kazunari Ninomiya’s “Minamikun no Koibito” (2004, TV Asahi).

The second major turning point in his career came when Matsumoto Jun played the role of Domyoji Tsukasa in the drama “Boys Over Flowers ” broadcast in 2005. The drama received high viewer ratings, and Matsumoto’s recognition increased.

However, despite the popularity of the drama, the sales of the theme song “WISH” were not as good as those of the PONY CANYON era, although they were better than the sales of J Storm’s earlier singles. During this period, some fans debated how Arashi could sell.

The major debut of NEWS with Tomohisa Yamashita in 2004, the appearance of Kazuya Kamenashi and Jin Akanishi in the second series of “Gokusen” in 2006, and the CD debut of KAT-TUN on the strength of the million-seller “Seishun Amigo” by Shuji and Akira, suddenly became a big hit. TUN suddenly became a breakout hit.

Arashi now faces the additional challenge of having juniors who are easily recognizable and sell well. In those days, Johnny’s was only a company that could sell explosively. According to my memory, during this period, there was even a self-deprecating talk on a TV program in which Arashi and the members of Kanjani Eight, who had also been waiting for their breakthrough, competed with each other for the lowest position in popularity.

Will the Arashi members, who lived together through the unfavorable times, still get over this pinch?

Finally, “One Love,” the theme song for “Boys Over Flowers F,” became a big hit, selling over 500,000 copies, and the group made its first appearance on the “NHK Kohaku Uta Gassen.

In the midst of all this, Sho Sakurai became the anchor of “NEWS ZERO” in the fall of ’06. Then, ” Letters from Iwo Jima,” a Hollywood movie starring Kazuya Ninomiya, was nominated for several Academy Awards, and Ninomiya’s performance received high praise. This was the beginning of a trend that impressed the general public with “What’s so great about Arashi? This may have been a major factor in the success of “Hana Yori Dango” in the general public.

Of course, the afterglow of the “Boys Over Flowers” hit still lingered. The sequel “Boys Over Flowers 2 (Returns) ” was broadcast from the beginning of 2007 to add to this trend. The ratings exceeded those of the previous film, and the theme song “Love so sweet” recorded the highest sales since the debut song. However, it was not enough. CD sales fell again after that. However, the afterglow of “2” still lingered.

To top it all off, “Boys Over Flowers F” was released in 2008 as the final part of the series. The movie version , “Hana Yori Dango F,” was released in 2008, and its box-office performance and theme song, “One Love,” became a big hit, selling over 500,000 copies. In the summer of the same year, Arashi’s first live performance at the National Stadium was also a great success.

Arashi’s popularity became unshakable, and in 2009 they dominated the top three spots on the Oricon singles annual ranking and made their first appearance on NHK’s Kohaku Uta Gassen, a long-sought after event. Since then, they have been known by many as a national idol group.

It has been 10 years since their debut.

Even though Arashi did not sell explosively after its debut, the atmosphere that even Arashi took its time has had no small influence on some fans of former Johnny’s talents, who have come to see the group as a role model.

I’ll still be Arashi tomorrow,” Ninomiya said. Will the members of Arashi, who have lived together through the unfavorable times, still be able to overcome this crisis, the biggest crisis since the founding of their former office?

There is a possibility that Ninomiya’s independence will be the first step toward a new J Storm-like story.

  • Interview and text by Satoru Ota

    Writer, editor, and interviewer. He started his writing career as a student, and currently writes mainly entertainment articles and interviews for websites and magazines.

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