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03 March 2011 @ 11:24 pm
JE History Through 8時だJ - Introduction  

Hello, everyone! You might know me from a certain disbanded comm, and if so, you probably know of me as that crazily old-show-loving chick who was connected to that 8時だJ (8 ji da J, or literally "It's 8 o'clock! J") project. In light of the indefinite hiatus (for obvious reasons), I thought I would start a journal series on this show--notes, comments, JE trivia tidbits, fangirling , pimping juniors who long since left the jimusho... The title of the series is "JE History Through 8時だJ," but never fear, it's not going to be the JE version of your high school history textbook! So, in this bleak hour without your loyal 8時だJ by your side, may this provide you your 8時だJ fix for the day/week/month! 

Well, that's my intention anyway.

So, without further ado, let's move on to the main feature of tonight's program: 8時だJ!

Show Title: 8時だJ
Run: April 15, 1998 - September 22, 1999
Network: TV Asahi
Showtime: Every Wednesday from 8:00 p.m. to 8:54 p.m.
Preceeded by: SHOW-NEN J (TV Asahi, Every Tuesdays at 0:39)
Followed by: Yattaru-J and then music-enta (same time slot under different names)

1. Background

It was the best of times. Wait, that was Dickens, sorry. Seriously though, it really was (the best of times, I mean, not Dickens). It was the good old days when juniors had their own golden time (or as we say it over here in most of the English-speaking world, "prime time) TV, held their own dome concert tours, and commanded a huge level of popularity. Long story short, it was Johnny's Jr.'s Golden Age (ジャニーズジュニア黄金期, which, according to older fans I've met, even had its entry in an official Japanese dictionary of some kind).

A simple way to define the age is with one phrase that pointed out the leading figures of the time quite succinctly: "Takizawa of the East, Shibutani of the West (「東の滝沢西の渋谷」)." They were the top junior within the Kantou and the Kansai juniors, respectively, and Takki, in particular, is central to that period both in terms of being the Jr. Leader from 1999 until his debut and crucial to the Sugao concert series, and in terms of his own popularity.

Full Shot of the juniors 1997 in promotion material for Meikan vol. 2

The peak of the Golden Age was roughly around 1997/8-1999, but really, one could say that it encompasses a growing trend that could be traced back to mid- to late-1996 and early 1997, and continued well into 2000 before its decline around late-2000 and 2001. The trend began to develop with the release of the Johnny's Jr. meikans (basically a yearbook-like photo directory, there are scans out there if you look hard enough) in late 1996, the launch of various variety programs showcasing the juniors such as Ai Love Jr. and Music Jump, in 1996 and 1997, and the success of TV drama with juniors in one of the main roles (Takki, in most cases), such as Mukuyou no Kaidan and News no Onna, which brought in more fans and attention. Opportunities abound, competition was also fierce (especially during the peak period, with an unprecedented number of juniors auditioned in to accommodate concert needs and so on), and us fans were graced with a group of extremely talented juniors, all with strong personalities. Yes, in a way, the Golden Age of the juniors is also Takki's Age; but more than that, the defining feature of the period is the level at which the juniors came into the limelight and shone in their own right despite their not-yet-debuted status.

A page from the 1998.01 issue of Myojo featuring popular juniors from the period

In that way, the Golden Age really hearkened in a brand new era for the juniors, for better or for worse. Before then, the juniors mainly stayed out of the limelight, and mainly functioned as back dancers for debuted groups. Sure, there were programs like Ai Love Smap and Idols on Stage, in which the juniors were involved; however, never before in JE history did the juniors garner so much attention and media exposure. And, perhaps, never again--while juniors nowadays still have Shounen Club and different groups have their concert tours, the level of popularity and media exposure for the juniors nowadays come nowhere near the level during the late-90s peak.

Screencap from Johnny's Jr.'s performance on Music Station; January 29, 1999 

Which brings me to my next point--when did the Golden Age end? Some, with Takki's importance to the period in mind, define it as 2002, when Tackey & Tsubasa debuted. While I do not deny that it was indeed one of the nails in the proverbial coffin, I tend to look at it from a wider point of view and pinpoint it at around late 2000 and 2001, with Kohara Yuki's announcement that he is leaving the jimusho and his farewell to the fans at the end of the 3 Domes Tour in 2000, the third and last in the Sugao series (it was the first and only instance in JE history that a junior was able to actually announce that he was leaving, instead of just disappear quietly without any preambles) and the gradual diminish of work for the Kansai juniors, including the top 4 (Subaru, Yoko, Hina, and Ryo). There were signs of trouble as early as late 1998 and throughout 1999 (for reason I would rather not go into here for fear of turning this into a general JE corporate history and uwasa post); and although Arashi worked with the juniors for quite some time after their debut, the debut nonetheless took some tolls on fan support, as not everyone was happy about who got to debut and who didn't (which was really something unavoidable when you have a big core group of juniors each immensely popular in his own right, only each to different degrees). In 2000, with the transformation of Music Jump into Shounen Club, Yamapi and Kat-tun began to rise to the center, and while Takki was still the junior leader was still heavily involved in the panning of the show, he was no longer MC and face of Shounen Club the way he was in 8時だJ, Music Jump, and so on. Also, after the first quarter of 2001, the series of programs occupying a prime time slot was finally pulled off air and was turned into Hadaka no Shonen, which aired at midnight on Saturdays--something that in a way, signified the close of an era.

II. The Show Itself

Pictures with all participating juniors and Hiromi, taken in the studio on the day when the first episode of 8じだJ was recorded

So, why 8時だJ in particular, aside from the practical reasons like subs and subbing team disbanding and hiatus? It, together with Music Jump, really mark the peak of the Johnny's Jr. boom in late-90s. As we all know, 8 時だJ launched in April, 1998, and marked the Johnny's Jr.'s move into prime time TV. In the same month, Music Jump, previously a shared endeavor between V6 and the juniors, was fully handed over to the juniors. And to a lot of fans, or even non-fans, who witness the period, one of the first things that come to mind is always 8時だJ, that prime time variety show that showcased the juniors. And from the assortment of juniors who took central positions in the show from the launch of the show to its close and metamorphosis into Yattaru-J, one could really see the changes take place within the central group of juniors before your very eyes--the rise of the 4 top Kansai juniors, gradual marginalization of the older crowd within the juniors, the build-up to Arashi's debut, and the very fact that now-debuted junior(s) and current, older juniors who really should be called seniors entered the jimusho through this very show... Fascinating stuff to watch, really.

Even so, why should we care, you ask? Isn't this program just some fun show where we can see Arashi, T&T, Eito, Toma, and others in their pre-debut days? Well, it was, and it is. It's a fun show, and it really needs to be enjoyed as such. Even more than the present hiatus on subbing 8時だJ, I decided to launch this series on 8時だJ because it was my favorite period of JE history, that one period that made me laugh, fangirl, fall in love with all of the charming juniors, and cry so much, and I couldn't bear to see it go unknown and unappreciated in the fandom. Because honestly speaking, how many go in without knowing or caring who Kohara Yuki is (to speak nothing of other brilliant juniors who long since left)? How many doesn't know of "Ashita ni Mukatte" and "Can Do! Can Go!" as anything more than random Arashi/V6 songs? We all have our favorites, and I can't ask all of fandom to become a crazy Golden Age maniac like myself, but if one, just one person gained a new appreciation for the show because of my comments and notes, I've done my job right.

Thank you for reading this far, and please look forward to the next installment on the first episode!

Thanks: I won't be naming any names, for the list is too long, but a big shout out to everyone, especially old fans in the Japanese and Chinese fandoms, whose sites, concert reports, magazine interview transcriptions, TV show information, raws, scans, etc. I plowed through after becoming a huge fan of the Golden Age way after the peak!

P.S.: Since I'm not a fan who goes all the way back to the 90s, and had to rely on backlogs of information that I could find from that period, if there are any errors, or points you don't agree with me about, feel free to say so in the comments or shoot me a PM! I fell in love with the Golden Age after being Toma-baited into the fandom and immediately researching his old stuff like crazy, so my experience might not be the same as that of someone who experienced it first hand, but I do try to get a feel for that from what older fans wrote about that period.

Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: Johnny's Jr. - Ashita ni Mukatte
Dariya_0308dariya_0308 on March 6th, 2011 04:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing! :-3
silver_crystallsilver_crystall on March 29th, 2011 08:04 am (UTC)
Yeah, thank you so much for writing this!

Although I've been working on the eps too, I didn't know the background of this show...

Let's go on working on this, ne?!
nikhanikhapi on April 8th, 2011 01:40 pm (UTC)
You are going to sub 8 ji da J!? omg! That is soooo owesome! Good luck dearie.. Recently, I'm on Je jr golden era phase after watching sugao 3. I'm on a look for 8 ji da J! episodes but then the only subbing community who subbed some parts of it was already shut down their community. I wished I had dl-ed it earlier on...

Btw, Do you have links for sugao 1 and 2? Actually I found this website who uploaded the files but it seems the mf links are now dead? I was reallllly searching like crazy in the net now.. but can't still find it!

and I enjoy reading this entry of yours!
eirwen555eirwen555 on April 12th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
I've been subbing 8 ji da J with sora_takaku but since it closed, well... Yeah, haven't done much on the 8 ji da J front besides starting this blog post series. I have the raws for sugao 1-3 and I think newshfan subbed one of the sugao series. I can try to upload the raws if you still want them, and if you search for it, there should be places where you can find links to newshfan's subs, I'm pretty sure people saved the links and organized them in a blog somewhere...
nikhanikhapi on April 12th, 2011 02:59 pm (UTC)
Yo thank you!

I already have sugao 3 subbed by newshfan. I actually found the site where I can download sugao 1 and two raw but the links for mf were dead. It only has the mu links w/c I can't download from. I srsly tried to download the 300mb file from mu but it would take me 30 days to download it so i kinda gave up...

I'll be very happpppy if you uploaded them. I don't mind if it is raw...

And you subbed the 8 ji da j? ammm.... Is it ok to ask... If you still have the download links for the episodes? ^^v

thanks again!
eirwen555eirwen555 on May 1st, 2011 07:59 pm (UTC)
I actually don't have the subbed filed since I already have all of the raw and I don't need the subbed ones. And obviously I didn't save the links... I still have the translated script that I sent to the team but I don't think that'll help. Sorry!
Kavya Bkavya_kvb on August 26th, 2012 10:09 am (UTC)
can you please upload the sugao series again, if you have it still? Please pretty please? Even if it's raw, i don't mind. I've almost lost my mind looking for it.. only encountering dead links or MU ones :( please upload only if you have the time :) thanks anyway ^^
depebast on April 10th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
I really enjoyed this post. You write about this topic very well. There are many cherished moments in life, why not wear a beautiful dress! When looking back on special memories of your child wearing a gorgeous dress, it will make a fond memory.

eirwen555eirwen555 on April 12th, 2011 02:50 pm (UTC)
Did you replied to my post by mistake? I don't recall writing anything about a dress...
asweetsymphonyasweetsymphony on April 21st, 2011 06:55 pm (UTC)
I seriously believe that the golden era had the most talented and interesting juniors ever. I frickin love that era. I still watch it from time to time... and all the people we all know now like Arashi are still so innocent there. It's quite charming. xD

Oh btw, do you know more about this rumour that Takki, Osaka, Subaru, Kohara and another popular junior was going to debut instead of Arashi in 1998 or 99 but Osaka and the other guy was fired because they were caught smoking when they were still underage. I would appreciate it.
eirwen555eirwen555 on May 1st, 2011 07:57 pm (UTC)
I know, right? All the talented jrs. from that period, like Osaka, Kawano, Hamada, and of course the amazing Kohara Yuki...
I heard about that rumor too, that thing about what's now Arashi being originally a group for Takki, Tsubasa, Kohara, Osaka, and Hamada. Don't remember if Subaru's included. My source wasn't really clear on the exact member list, but the main part is that what we now know as Arashi was formed pretty last minute after some juniors who were scheduled to debut with Takki in 1999 (obviously implying Osaka and probably Hamada) were involved in that underage drinking scandal in late '98. So yeah, the other guy you were talking about was most likely Hamada Kazuo. The scandal also involved Omi Kazuki and Anazawa Masahiro. A lot of people speculates that all the scandals and incidents around late '98 and '99 are connected and that other companies were trying to bring JE down a notch, and I think there's a lot of truth in that. After all, wasn't Johnny-san's trial around that same time period?
Anyway, back to the juniors, if you look at the junior-central variety shows like 8J, while the younger three of Arashi were pretty prominent from the very beginning, they're not all that much more heavily featured than older popular juniors like Osaka. They sit on the first row (and Toma could usually be found with them as well), but not front-center unless they're the main feature of a segment. But towards the end of '98 and beginning of '99, they begin to move closer to the center, and around that time, Sho can be seen more and more often as well, whereas in the beginning Sho wasn't one of the juniors who regularly feature in the various segments. And with the concerts as well, for quite a while it looked almost as if Takki was training MatsuJun to be the next junior leader when Takki himself debuts, what with the way Jun was helping with the concert planning and everything... Though that might just be a product of Jun being staunchly on Takki's side if you start thinking about the factions among the juniors during that time.
But what do we know, really, the past's the past and while what-ifs like what if Kohara debuted and MAIN debuted together are fun... *sigh* I guess it'll always be bittersweet for me, think about those juniors. Glad to know that you seem to love them too though! ^-^
asweetsymphonyasweetsymphony on May 1st, 2011 10:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much!

So...it was a drinking scandal? I remember Takki had to apologize in a MS performance because of that incident. Also, you're right. The three younger members of Arashi started to get more prominent after the scandal.

I remember reading that Nino started to get really concerned in early 1999 because he felt he was suddenly being pushed into the spotlight by the management. He was worried cause he was planning to quit in 2000.

Sho was confuse about the sudden push by the management too even though he was a senior. Ever since his hiatus due to his school work, he was always being placed in the back in dances.

Also, I didn't know that Takki was grooming Jun as the new leader. I was under impression that Takki was grooming Yamapi. However, I remember Jun mentioning his involvement in jr concerts too and how fascinated he was by it. I think that was a good experience for him because he is still the concert planner for Arashi even now.

You're right about the what ifs. I am pretty happy the current Arashi debuted. :D But I wonder why the Jimusho held Takki back? Why couldn't they just replace the two members with Jun or another popular jr? I think the Jimusho really hurt his growth in popularity because of that. Maybe they were trying to control the jrs so they wanted Takki to mentor the younger ones and help maintain their popularity. Also, it was really a shame with Kohara. (sigh) He was so cool. At least, he still keeps in touch with Sho and Nino.

Also very interesting that there was a conspiracy (well, if you can call it that.. xD ) against Johnny's. I have always wondered if people were threatened by JE. I guess they are.

I really appreciate this. Thank you!
eirwen555eirwen555 on May 1st, 2011 11:25 pm (UTC)
First, keep in mind that most stuff that I mentioned are all uwasa, rumor, i.e. not hard facts that are public knowledge, so take everything with a grain of salt.
And well, with the grooming Jun/Yamapi to be the next leader thing... To be fair Takki was grooming Yamapi, but that didn't really start, or become apparent for that matter, until later, with shows like Shokura. And when was that? That's right, after Arashi debuted. It seems that Takki took a liking to Yamapi from the beginning though. But all the same, as far as us fans can see anyway, Yamapi didn't really come near to being the de-facto successor to Takki until Jun et. al. were all debuted and gone. And if Takki, Kohara, and the other older juniors (pretty much the best of the 93-95 crowd, and of course, Kohara, the lone veteran who entered as early as '91) debut in '99 instead of Arashi, then Jun would be much more of an obvious choice for the next junior leader than Yamapi. ...Unless Yamapi pulls a Takki and lands himself national popularity through drama appearances, and then we'd have a reenactment of Takki vs. Kohara on our hands.
But I digress. Like I said, the whole Jun-was-supposed-to-be-the-next-junior-leader thing was all speculation, albeit one that I personally believe to be pretty close to the truth. But what do us fans know anyway, right? So yeah...
As for why the Jimusho held Takki back, well, my personal pet theory is that if they debuted both Takki AND Jun, then they would really have no one who can lead the juniors. Yeah, there's always Yamapi, but not without an initial period of unrest, probably, and that's exactly what the Jimusho doesn't need at that point in time because the situation isn't the best all-around already, what with the sexual harassment lawsuits with Shukan Bunshun. And knowing what we know now, unless Arashi debuted the way it did, Ohno, Sho, and Nino weren't going to stick around, and I would bet that if Aiba didn't debut, there's a good likelihood that he, not his brother, would've been the one to inherit the restaurant... So in the end, you get pretty much the same people as we did in our version of history, and no (or significantly less) Takki. True, Arashi was with the juniors a lot even after their debut, but if it was Takki et. al. who debuted, things might have turned out slightly differently, because after all, the group would have debuted on the tails of Takki's post- Majo no Jouken popularity. But still... I don't know.
And I'm not even going to try to go into the whole thing with Kohara because he's still my secret JE-fav... At least he has his name in the JE legends, since he was and still is the only junior ever who got to announce leaving JE, during a concert or otherwise. They usually just disappear and you don't really find out until much later.
mmt ♥ just that...usermmt on June 19th, 2011 06:53 pm (UTC)
Hi *waves*
you are subbing this? *yatta*
I just found you lj and I was wondering if you had a list with like summaries and dates of wich episode?

btw I added you, can you add me back too?
thank you <33
S: Mizuki <3yomimashou on July 29th, 2011 06:48 pm (UTC)
This is really interesting! I'm always curious to find out more about this time period, because I love MAIN and Yoko and everybody, but it's so hard to find details about what went on before Arashi's debut and everything... I would love it if you continued this series!

Also, I was wondering if you knew anything about Sano Mizuki. I really love him, but it's especially difficult to find any information since he's so unknown these days. Do you know if he was still at all active with the juniors during the Golden Age?
eirwen555: Akihabaraeirwen555 on December 23rd, 2011 05:27 pm (UTC)
I don't know a lot about him, i'm afraid, he's not exactly that active anymore when the golden jrs. were at their peak. I know he was in Kindaichi with Domoto Tsuyoshi, and supposedly the author of Hana-Kimi was a fan of his and named the main duo in that manga after him, but not much beyond that except the fact that he's still in the jimusho. He was in the early meikans though, definitely vol. 1, maybe vol. 2, I have to check my copies again...
...Okay, he was in vols. 1, 3, and 4, and if you want, I can send you the scans of his pages (not scanned by me, I got it from someone else because I couldn't figure out how to scan my copies without taking the books apart).
Milkshake and Pimp Juice.inuhariko on February 17th, 2012 03:42 am (UTC)
Wow, amazing, informative post! I share your enthusiasm for the Golden Era junior days. Thanks for putting all this info together!
jei_mariejei_marie on March 22nd, 2014 12:36 pm (UTC)
Wow! This is so interesting.. I am so late in watching 8-Jida J, i just watched it last week. its so amazing that Jrs. that time is so popular that they've given their own show. I can't help but sigh when I learned that Kohara left the agency (He's my secret JE fave too.) I didn't know about the scandal, that's why Im wondering where Osaka and Hamada was on the later episodes of 8J..
FanFan HaHaFanFan HaHa on May 5th, 2014 08:48 pm (UTC)
right on!
You've done a good job. :D