This SMAP poster has been up for a while now. The faux “aid” message and the band-aid graphic are as insipid and uninspired as Japan’s oldest boy band. I wonder why these aging botoxed no-talents keep performing even when they show no interest in being on stage or with each other. In all those years of shilling cup of noodles, magazines, CDs, variety shows, etc, didn’t they make enough yen to enjoy retirement or a new career? Or have they made a life-time pact with Johnny-san, the evil boy band producer? Seeing them triggers an involuntary cringe each time.
I feel alternate disgust and pity for SMAP, Japan’s original boy band from the early 1990s. Each year, they release new CDs, sell stuff in ads, and hog a lot of TV time. But it’s increasingly clear that with each year, the band members are desperately trying to subtract a year from their appearances. It’s unsettling to see these 40 year olds posing as teenagers.
In their recent appearance on the New Years Eve Kouhaku show, they did not dance, sang very poorly, and basically showed no interest in performing. Does evil Johnny prevent them from just retiring? At least they are keeping the Photoshop jockeys in business.
Kabukicho is now full of ads for this new (?) host club called Smappa!, which seems a blatant rip-off of SMAP, the boy band now entering middle-age. The Smappa ad for Shun-kun above hilariously promises 夜のロハス, night-time lohas.
Lohas means Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability, and applies to a 30 something female demographic. What has made hairspray and men’s make-up sustainable? I think actually, like the club name, it is a blatant attempt to connect with larger pop culture themes (like a bad porn title that mimics a Hollywood blockbuster).
From their incredibly complete Smappa! website, I have borrowed these staff images. Scroll to the bottom to see their onsen/ryoukan holiday. These boys are well-documented. Check their Smappa website for more!
My least favorite SMAP member Kusanagi Tsuyoshi was arrested for being drunk and naked last night at 3 am in Hinokicho Park near posh Tokyo Midtown. He reportedly told the police, “What’s so bad about being naked?”
The story created a breaking news flash on Japanese TV, and has already reached the foreign press including the Singapore Straits Times, Bloomberg, AP and the San Francisco Chronicle. The Straits Times describes SMAP as “an ageing boy band.”
Of course there will be apologies, and corporate marketing and even governmental policy implications. Per Bloomberg:
Japan’s government may halt advertisements promoting digital TV after the incident, as the campaign features Kusanagi, said Hideo Harada, an official at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.
Toyota Motor Corp. also will halt commercials featuring the performer. “We’ll stop all advertisements in which Kusanagi appears as of today,” said Hideaki Homma, a spokesman at Toyota.
I always thought he was the ugly one of the five guys, covering up his receding hair line with goofy bangs. Maybe his drunken defense of public nudity will make me re-consider his talents.
Could Johnny Kitagawa, the mastermind of four decades of Japanese boy bands, be hiding some dark secrets? A recent Guardian newspaper article accuses the creator of SMAP and Mokun of exploitation, deceit, monopolization, and abuse. With hints of ties to the yakuza. Johnny, almost 80, wields such power in the Japanese media that few in this country dare challenge him. One particularly randy quote:
Kitagawa claimed he works only with boy bands because they are “easier to handle”, which would be fine if he didn’t mean it literally.
I am torn between mindless consumerism and moral concern. On the one hand, he has brought Japan (and the world) a never-ending parade of big-haired boys as objects of feminine lust. On the other hand, maybe he is not a nice person. What do you think?
The Japanese film Okuribito (おくりびと）has been nominated for an Academy Award (Best Foreign Film). It stars Motoki Masahiro (aka Mokkun), an actor in his mid-40s.
The story revolves around a cellist who loses his job in a New York orchestra, and becomes an undertaker in rural Japan.
Motoki became famous as one of the earliest Janny-su (discovered by Johnny Jimusho, the boy band king of Japan, who also promoted Kimutaku and SMAP) to soaps, songs and a nude photo book called the “White Room” in 1991.
Has anyone already seen the movie? I am super-curious to see it. Here’s the trailer and official website in Japanese:
On a short walk through Kichijoji, Kimutaku (木村 拓哉), with his artfully shaggy perm, was literally everywhere: in a Sony digi-cam product display, on four magazine covers, and an NTT promotion with the full SMAP. In addition to the Cup of Noodle billboards and TV ads, and the on-going SMAP show, he’s got a new TV show debuting soon.
Could Kimutuku be even more pervasive? What if you could conjure him at will? What if he promoted every consumer product? I’m sure for many he’s already their number 1 imaginary friend.:: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: :: ::