Backlash Over Dome Concert Featuring Old Johnny’s’ like Kis-My-Ft2 – Fans Express Confusion and Criticism | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Backlash Over Dome Concert Featuring Old Johnny’s’ like Kis-My-Ft2 – Fans Express Confusion and Criticism

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Ohno Satoshi Ninomiya Kazunari (far right) is leaving the agency, but the group activities of “Arashi” will continue. On the other hand, Ohno Satoshi (center) is still on hiatus, raising concerns among fans.

STARTO ENTERTAINMENT (formerly Johnny & Associates) announced the event “WE ARE! Let’s get the party STARTO!!”, which will start full-scale operations from April.

The event will take place on April 10th at the Tokyo Dome and on May 29th-30th at the Kyocera Dome Osaka. The lineup includes 12 groups: NEWS, SUPER EIGHT, KAT-TUN, Hey! Say! JUMP, Kis-My-Ft2, A.B.C-Z, WEST., King & Prince, SixTONES, Snow Man, Naniwa Danshi, and Travis Japan.

On the 2nd, the hashtag “#STARTOENTERTAINMENT” trended high on Twitter.

However, the reality is not necessarily one of joy about the concert announcement; rather, many tweets expressed criticism or concerns towards STARTO Entertainment or its president, Jun Fukuda.

“Wait, what? How can they announce dome concerts without even mentioning whether fans can still contract or not? Seriously, this president is just leaving the fans behind.”

“Why not announce it to the fan club members first instead of the media?”

“Before announcing the live concerts, shouldn’t they first communicate about the new system to the fans? We still have no idea what’s been happening since last year and who’s doing what. Are they expecting everyone to just sign contracts? I’m feeling really frustrated about this.”

“They’re raising ticket prices to 15,000 yen, scheduling concerts on weekdays. It’s no wonder they say the ones we should be fighting against are the fans. Thanks for doing everything that fans hate, Fukuda-san.”

It seems like fans are harboring considerable dissatisfaction with this crucial event, which marks the departure from Johnny’s and the start of a new era.

Even those who aren’t fans are feeling puzzled—what exactly is STARTO Entertainment? Is it a talent agency or a company for former Johnny’s talents to sign agent contracts with? This distinction isn’t quite clear.

During the press conference on October 2nd last year, it was clarified that young talents can also join the new company. Then, in the announcement from SMILE Corporation on December 8th, both agent contracts and management contracts were mentioned.

“If it’s an agent contract, each group or talent would need to provide their own manager or staff. In that case, it would be the same as being independent, which is why accomplished talents like Ninomiya Kazunari and Okada Junichi left the agency.

However, if STARTO Entertainment is organizing events that promote this sense of family, it doesn’t quite look like a regular agency but more like a production company. In the end, it seems like Johnny’s is simply changing its name to avoid public scrutiny.” (Television industry insider)

On the other hand, upon examining X’s posts, it’s apparent that the same critical remarks are being posted by numerous accounts, suggesting spam-like behavior. Someone seems to be intentionally spreading these comments, which has led to them trending. However, this also indicates that there are forces who strongly disapprove of STARTO Entertainment.

“Even though members like those from Arashi and KinKi Kids have left the agency, the groups remain. However, there are too many uncertainties regarding future group activities. This is evidence that the company’s control isn’t functioning well, including issues related to transfers.” (Women’s magazine journalist)


However, it should also be a moment of joy for fans as they finally take a new step forward. For fans who lamented the absence of a countdown concert in 2023 and couldn’t usher in the new year, this event is expected to be significant.

It will be interesting to see if this new departure will be a success.

  • PHOTO Shinji Hasuo

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