TOBE Junior Makes Tokyo Dome Debut Amidst Concerns Over Training System Similarity to Johnny’s Model | FRIDAY DIGITAL

TOBE Junior Makes Tokyo Dome Debut Amidst Concerns Over Training System Similarity to Johnny’s Model

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Mr. Takizawa is about to face his agency’s first live performance. The success or failure of this event will significantly influence his future activities.

From March 14th to 17th, “to HEROes~TOBE 1st Super Live~” is being held at the Tokyo Dome, garnering high attention from fans as it brings together artists from Takizawa Hideaki’s (41) entertainment agency, “TOBE.”

“Former ‘V6’ member Ken Miyake (44), former ‘Kis-My-Ft2’ member Hiromitsu Kitayama (38), former ‘King & Prince’ and current ‘Number_i’ member Sho Hirano (27), Yuta Kishi (28), Yuta Jinguji (26), and the seven-member group ‘IMP.’ will participate. The final performance on March 17th will be live-streamed on Amazon Prime Video to approximately 230 countries, indicating a global awareness,” a sports newspaper entertainment reporter stated.

In just one year since its establishment in March of last year, the artists under the TOBE agency are standing on the stage of the Tokyo Dome. While the event boasts a star-studded lineup, it has also attracted attention with the introduction of new faces, namely teenage boys referred to as trainees.

“The boys who passed auditions last spring are scheduled to serve as backup dancers for Hirano and others. In December of last year, five boys aged 10 to 13 appeared on the YouTube program ‘Tobe-ban’ featuring TOBE artists, and their work may increase in the future,” a television station insider mentioned.

There are high expectations for the performances of these fresh rookies. However, the same television station insider noted, “Watching them, one can’t help but feel the resemblance to the old Johnny & Associates (now SMILE-UP).

“Their cute looks reminiscent of elementary and junior high school students evoke the image of juniors (formerly Johnny’s Jr.). Serving as senior backup dancers is also very much in line with the old Johnny & Associates. It’s been pointed out before, but the impression of creatinglittle Johnny’s remains,” they added.

Last year, the main Johnny’s office faced a major scandal involving its founder, Mr. Johnny Kitagawa (who passed away at the age of 87), regarding sexual misconduct. In response to the series of issues, the company changed its name to SMILE-UP. and a new company called “STARTO ENTERTAINMENT” will begin managing talents from April 1st. Amidst the trend of Johnny’s disappearance, there are growing doubts about Takizawa’s decision to increase the exposure of TOBE Junior.

“It has been revealed that Mr. Takizawa sexually assaulted underage boys before his death. Some people on the Internet criticized the way the former Johnny’s office dealt with underage talent. Although Mr. Takizawa himself did not cause the problem, it is worrisome that the official website of TOBE does not include any guidelines regarding the training of underage talent, rules, etc.” (source from the TV station mentioned above).

While TOBE is scouting for new talents, the production of juniors from the former Johnny’s is facing difficulties. Last September, it was reported in some media outlets that the CD debut of the Kansai juniors group “Ae! group” was canceled due to the influence of the sexual misconduct issue. Female fans of the former Johnny’s are becoming gloomy.

“Takki was originally in charge of producing juniors at Annex (formerly Johnny’s Island), but he hasn’t taken any responsibility for the scandal. Despite juniors making CD debuts every year in recent years, none debuted last year, possibly due to the sexual misconduct issue. There must be many juniors feeling anxious about their future. Knowing this situation, I can’t understand why Takki is letting children stand on stage at TOBE as if nothing happened.”


Amidst the loss of the Johnny’s brand by his former juniors, what is Takizawa thinking?

  • PHOTO Makoto Kuwata

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