Arashi is a common Japanese word meaning “storm” but utter it to any Japanese person and images of the top male idol unit in the country will likely cross their minds before those of cloudy skies and overflowing gutters. Not a day goes by without Arashi appearing on some television show, and every album they release is pretty much guaranteed to hit number one.
However, the thing is… we don’t understand why they are so successful. Not to take anything away from Arashi as performers – they’re good looking chaps who have a sound easier to digest than a cup of warm yogurt. We just don’t get why they stand above all of the other boy bands on the scene in Japan who seem to be and do exactly the same thing. So, we sent our reporter P.K. Sunjun to interview Arashi fans and get to the bottom of the group’s appeal.
■ Mingling with the fans
P.K. headed down to the Tokyo Dome late last June where Arashi was making a stop on their Arashi’s Exciting School tour. As such there were many fans milling around outside the stadium wearing school uniforms. There were also several fans wearing floral wreaths on their head: a popular trend for those attending concerts.
You’d probably expect around 99 percent of the audience to be teenage girls, but there was a fairly wide range of ages and groups consisting of parents and their children.
There were even more guys than expected… not much more… but more. As P.K. started canvassing Arashi fans he immediately noticed something. Nearly 70 percent of the people he asked weren’t really into Johnny’s other idol groups.
Johnny & Associates is an agency that creates and promotes boy bands such as SMAP and Kis-My-Ft2. Although many of Johnny’s other acts have garnered huge success, the people in attendance that day were not all that interested in them, only Arashi.
P.K. felt a sense of awe that this group could break beyond the circle of male idol fanatics sometimes called janiwota (Johnny’s otaku) and draw fans from everywhere. However, this still didn’t answer the question at hand: What do these guys do that makes them more popular than others like them?
■ They get along, like each other, and have a good relationship!
When asked straight why they liked Arashi fan after fan seemed to have the same reply along the lines of “Because they all get along so well!” However, when asked “What else do you like about them?” they paused in deep thought as if asked a legitimate but completely unexpected question like “Besides breathing it, what else do you like about air?”
At the end of their pondering many fans would simply repeat: “They just like each other!” This reason didn’t make a whole lot of sense to P.K. who was beginning to assume that most girls simply found the guys in Arashi hot but were too embarrassed to say so. Still, that alone doesn’t answer the question either. Pretty faces are a dime a dozen in show business and there had to be something else going on here.
Beyond that, how do all these fans really know that the guys in Arashi don’t secretly hate each other’s guts when off stage or camera. One concert-goer was able to shed some light in a way P.K. could easily understand.
“Do you know how many appearances these guys make during live shows and on TV? If there were even a little tension between the members of Arashi, we would easily be able to know.”
That made an awful lot of sense. Arashi’s countless appearances in the public eye allowed their fans to always be able to see how they were doing. In that way, the fan might feel a certain connection with the group almost as intimate as knowing Arashi while barely ever being in the same breathing space as them.
▼ Even while depicted on paper fans the members of Arashi’s seem to get along well.
Other boy bands may make relatively sporadic appearances or take the occasional hiatus to massage bruised egos, but Arashi simply does not stop. Perhaps in the eyes of fans this shows a certain sense of sincerity often unseen in pop music.
■ Women love guys who love guys
Not only are the apparent good vibrations between Arashi members what brings in the supporters, but also the fact that ladies really seem to get off on guys acting nice to each other.
For female fans, when seeing members of Arashi display their affections for one another with eye contact, leaning on another’s shoulder, or hugging, a frenzy of excitement is sure to ensue. This was the epiphany that P.K. was looking for and he felt it was a strategy that could work outside of pop music as well.
“Based on my results I’d advise men of the world to get along with other men, be they colleagues, acquaintances, or whatever. Women seem to get intoxicated by positive male relationships, so try your damnedest to be good to one another! Affectionate physical contact seems to be especially effective.”
Perhaps P.K.’s message may one day reach Asian leaders so that they may put aside their differences and begin a new era of cutely resting their chins on one another’s shoulder and playfully patting each other on the bottoms. Island disputes would be at an all-time low once Xi Jinping realizes how much women dig the way he lovingly stares into Shinzo Abe’s eyes while playfully scruffing up Truong Tan Sang’s hair.
Personally, I may just be stuck in my ways, but I prefer beer cold, my coffee hot, and my male entertainers physically abusing each other with monkey wrenches and eye gouges. Soitanly! Nyuk, Nyuk Nyuk.
Original report by P.K. Sunjun
▼ A big thanks to all the Arashi fans who took the time to answer our questions!
▼ This dude looked like he was just selling fans, but we’ll take his word that he is a fan himself.
[ Read in Japanese ]