Log in

29 April 2012 @ 08:10 pm
JE HISTORY THROUGH 8時だJ - Episode #1 (98.04.15)  
At last, the second entry in my "JE HISTORY THROUGH 8時だJ" series, introducing Episode 1 (98.04.15), after more than a year's absence! 

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)

And with no further ado, introducing episode #1:

Being the first real entry on the show itself, this post will be longer than usual with background information on the juniors and the period. 

The show opens with "Can Do! Can Go!", a V6 song from their second mini album often sang by the juniors at the time (this part is absent from the version of the raw file that I own, so my information is drawn from Japanese fan reports). From the opening shot in the file I do have, it appears that everyone who was present on the day it was recorded danced in the opening number. From what I've read, at the center were Jun, Takki, and Aiba, in that order from left to right. Jun and Aiba were in orange clothes, whereas Takki was in yellow. This member selection was partly to emphasize Takki in the middle, no doubt. And from that, another fun fact: the differences in costume colors do mean something. While it's not an absolute indication of popularity per se since some of it has to do with the particular performance and choreography, it does tell you something about relative seniority and position among the juniors. For example, the ones in yellow in the center in the picture below are all ones who entered the jimusho in or before 95, seated in the front row in the episode, and heavily featured besides. The orange-wearing ones like Jun and Aiba is pretty much the next level down, and then the ones in red. The young ones are on the side in green, and if you squint you can see older, usually not centrally-featured juniors in the back.

And a word or two about "Can do! Can go!" itself: a song originally by V6, it has become somewhat of a signature song for the juniors of the golden period because of the sheer frequency it was sang in junior shows and performances (even when they appeared on Music Station) and because it was taken up by the film "Shinjuku Shonen Tanteidan (新宿少年探偵団)" starred by Aiba, Jun, and Yokoyama. There was even a PV released of the song sang by the juniors (also featured at the end of the film), which was, by the way, shot in Hawaii during the same trip during which the marathon segment in this episode was shot.

Anyway, on to the opening shot. In the center, unsurprisingly, we find Takki as the MC introducing us to the show and the co-host, Hiromi. 

Hiromi (ヒロミ):
Birth Name:
Kozono Hiromi (小園浩巳)
Birth: Feb. 13, 1963, in Hachioji, Tokyo (the same city as Takki)
Debuting in 1986, Hiromi boasted a long list of shows in which he served as the main host, which mostly included shows on CX and Fuji. 8J is the first TV Asahi show in which he served as the main host (at least according to his Japanese wiki page). 

And about the guests:
Throughout the early episodes, we see quite a few JE senpais from the J-Friends generation as guests, no doubt as a promotion scheme to draw in fans and general viewers who were not yet familiar with the juniors. In this episode, we have KinKi Kids, who at the time was in the first year after their major debut (July 21, 1997) and widely popular all the way from back in the junior days. Seeing this, I can't help but to remember the first episode of another junior show from that time, Ai Love Jr., which also had KinKi Kids as guests. Seems like a common JE marketing strategy then. I'll skip on the detailed info on KinKi Kids, since I think all JE fans should recognize and more or less know them anyway. Let me know in the comments if more introduction is needed though. 

And then, for the show opening special project:

They really had a lot of foreign location shoots back then, didn't they? In this part, we have Takki, Aiba, Jun, and Nino, the latter two of whom flew jets to draw the words "8J" in the sky. Takki was a given, seeing his status among the juniors and in the show itself, whereas Jun, Aiba, and Nino, together with Ikuta Toma, were pretty much the top juniors amongst the younger juniors (a.k.a ones entering in 96 and after) at the time. In 1997, the aforementioned four starred in the play "Stand By Me" (yes, based on the movie) and formed MAIN, which was active during the time of the play and for some time after. (As most of you can tell, the group is named after their last name initials: Matsumoto, Aiba, Ikuta, Ninomiya. You'll probably recognize that strategy from KAT-TUN and Kis-my-ft2's group names. Creative, that Johnny-san.) Around that time, Toma was acting in the TV drama "Love&Peace" alongside Matsuoka Masahiro from TOKIO, so his absence from the oveaseas location shoots and the main parts of this episode was probably due to conflicts with filming. 

   First Segment: Jr. No Kimochi (Jr.'s Feelings)   

Instead of going into details about the questions themselves, I would like to use this time to introduce some of the lesser-known juniors and ex-juniors from the time. 

In the order from left to right, we have:
Top row: Machida Shingo (町田慎吾), Yara Tomoyuki (屋良朝幸), Uemura Yoshinori (植村良侑)
Middle: Ninomiya Kazunari, Yonehana Tsuyoshi (米花剛史)
Front: (the sholder in orange and white belongs to Takki), Osaka Shusuke (大坂俊介), Miura Tsutomu (三浦勉)

If you're at all familiar with the older juniors currently in the jimusho, you'll recognize Macchin, Yaracchi, and Yone from Musical Academy in the back. They're usually seated toward the back in this show and aren't as heavily featured as the top juniors usually in the front row, though Yara was in fact quite popular at the time despite it all and often ranked in the top ten in various junior rankings in magazines (the "Who is...?" ones on Myojo and such, you know the deal). Osaka, seated in the front, was definitely one of the most popular juniors at the time, and there were rumors that he was amongst the ones considered for debut in 1999 along with Takki and several others. However, photos of him and three other juniors, all underage at the time, drinking and smoking appeared in the paparazzi magazine "Friday" in late 1998, which resulted in all four being fired by the Jimusho in 1999. Next to Osaka is Miura Tsutomu, who was one of the variety-kei ones (for obvious reasons ;) ) and quite a good dancer (more on that later). I don't know all that much about Uemura in particularly, but from what I've read him and Yara used to be pretty good friends. 

Some data: 

 Machida Shingo
  • Born on March 25, 1981 in Chiba Prefecture
  • Entered JE on Oct. 16, 1994, the same day as Arashi's Ohno
  • Leader and founding member of Musical Academy (MA). 
  • Very close to Ohno and often danced with him as a pair during performances during as juniors. Went to the same high school before both quitting to go to Kyoto for the butai "Kyo to Kyo." 

Yara Tomoyuki
  • Born on Feb. 1, 1983 in Chiba Prefecture
  • Entered the Jimusho on April 23, 1995, the same day as Takki and Tsubasa
  • Member of Musical Academy (MA) since September 1999
  • Active as a choreographer in JE and choreographed Arashi's One Love, Crazy Moon, Sho's solo "Hip Hop Boogie" from Dream "A" Live, and other songs, includings Domoto Koichi's solos and songs by Kanjani8. 
Uemura Yoshinori
  • Born on Oct. 18, 1981 in Saitama Prefecture
  • Entered the jimusho on Nov. 13, 1994
Yonehana Tsuyoshi
  • Born on Oct. 5, 1982 in Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Entered the jimusho on Oct. 22, 1995, the same day as Arashi's Sakurai Sho. 
  • Very good at acrobatics, as those who watch 8J will certainly see
  • Member of Musical Academy (MA) since September 1999. 
Osaka Shunsuke
  • Born on June 6, 1982 in Kanagawa Prefecture
  • Entered the jimusho on Oct. 16, 1994, the same day as Ohno and Machida 
  • Fired in early 1999 due to underage drinking and smoking
  • Active as a actor, mostly of the stage but also appearing in movies including "Daydream (Hakujitsumu/白日夢) in 2009, and singer after leaving the jimusho but has retired from the entertainment industry (after leaving the cast of the "Shinjuku Midnight Baby 2010" due to health problems)

Miura Tsutomu
  • Born on Dec. 10, 1982 in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo
  • Entered the jimusho in 1993 (date uncertain)
  • Opened a bar with ex-juniors Hamada Kazuo and Omi Kazuki and in a band (cLover) with the aforementioned two and Kamada Jun
And here comes two of my favorites: Kawano Naoki (left) and Kohara Yuki (right). Kawano was mostly known amongst fans familiar with the period as a drummer, being the drummer in a lot of junior concerts and performances at the time. He left pretty early to persue music seriously. 

And then, there's the legendary Kohara Yuki. Having joined in 1991, he was by far the senior-most junior out of all the regular cast  of 8J. He is also the only Johnny's Jr. in JE history given the chance to announce his decision to leave the jimusho publicly. Being perhaps the most popular Johnny's Jr. in the period after Takki, he was one of only three juniors (the other two being Yamapi and Akanishi Jin) who topped the "The Jr. You Want As Your Boyfriend (恋人にしたいJr.)" ranking in Myojo for two years running ('96 and '97) and came in as #1 in the "Most Good-looking Jr.(一番美形なJr.)" for five years consecutively. He was also one of the best dancer among the juniors--good enough to be voted as #1, tied with Ohno, by the other juniors for the question "Who's the best dancer?" in the Winter 1997 issue of Johnny's Jr. Meikan, and since anyone familiar with Arashi knows that Ohno's a damn good dancer... You get the picture. ...And I'd better stop at that, lest I turn this into a Kohara pimp post. 

Kawano Naoki
  • Born on Feb. 22, 1982 in Mobara, Chiba Prefecture
  • Entered the jimusho in June 1995
  • Starred in Kaiki Club with Takki and Tsubasa and was a part of the derivate group "Kaidan Trio"; active as one of the top juniors since then with the aforementioned two, Kohara, and others
  • Leader and drummer of the Jr. band "Kawano Band" with Kohara and Koba Ken as bassists, Anazawa Masahiro as guitarists, and other members. Around that time, he was also in a band privately with Kohara and Samejima Takumi, guitarist and composer not connected with JE. Additionally, there was another band with other Johnny's Jr. members--Kohara Yuki, Sakurai Sho, Imai Tsubasa, and Ohno Satoshi--named Zeus (ゼウス). (not set up by the Jimusho as far as I know--Kohara was the one who got them together, I think?)
  • Left in the latter half of 1998 to pursue his dream to become a drummer
  • Active as a drummer in various bands since 2000 and and as an actor in drama, movies, and plays including Mendol in autumn season of 2008, L Change the World, and BECK from 2002 and on. 

Kohara Yuki
  • Born on May 21, 1980 in Okayama Prefecture (raised in Kanagawa Prefecture)
  • Entered the jimusho on Jan. 25, 1991
  • Member of Musical Academy (MA) from March 2000 and founding member of FiVe before leaving the jimusho; Also referred to as "Harahara combi" with Hara Tomohiro 
  • Starred in Psychometerer Eiji 1, 2, and SP, Miman Toshi, and Glass no Nou
  • Announced his decision to leave the jimusho during the first show in Osaka Dome of Johnny's Jr.'s 3 Domes Tour, on September 3, 2000, and officially graduated from Johnny's Jr. after the last show in Tokyo Dome on Oct. 15 of the same year. 
  • Really good friends with Sakurai Sho. 
  • Graduated from Asia University and currently work for a big-name advertisement company
  • The first and only ex-Johnny's Jr. appearing on TV programs who's actually introduced as such (as 元ジャニーズJr.) after leaving the jimusho with his appearance in Nino's A-Studio appearance on Oct. 15, 2010 (incidentally exactly 10 years to the date after his departure from JE as of the airing date).

Of course, there are other interesting juniors, and I will introduce them in time as they appear, but the above are my selection for today's post.

Second Segment: J-1 Grandprix - Hawaii Marathon SP

Hollywood, then Hawaii, the Jimusho/TV station sure has a lot of money to spend on the juniors! (Well, to be fair, the Hawaii trip also doubled as the location shoot for "Can do! Can go!" PV so it's not just for the purpose of this episode, and I forget if there's another purpose to the Hollywood trip as well...) Here, we open with Takki again at center, with Nino and Kohara on either side. If you payed attention to the seating arrangement and opening placement, you should begin to notice a pattern at this point: yep, Takki and Kohara are found at center positions more often than not. As I watch 8J from episode from episode, I often find myself paying attention to the seating arrangement in the studio and placements during performances and such, as it's usually reflective of the constantly changing pecking order among the juniors. Here in the marathon segment, the jersey numbers are pretty interesting too. We have:

1. Takizawa Hideaki
2. Kawano Naoki
3. Kohara Yuki
4. Osaka Shunsuke
5. Takahashi Yuzuru
6. Miura Tsutomu
7. Aiba Masaki
8. Ninomiya Kazunari
9. Matsumoto Jun
11. Yamashita Tomohisa
12. Yashiro Tokuhisa
19. Koba Ken
20. Miyagi Shunta
21. Yokoyama You
22. Murakami Shingo
23. Nishikido Ryo
24. Yasuda Shota
25. Maruyama Ryuhei

Note: Not everyone's jersey number was visible; some, mostly the top juniors and ones who performed well, were shown in close-ups, some even in captions, and some I recognized from group shots. 

Very obviously, we start with the top older juniors, beginning with Takki as usual, and then move down in blocks of relative seniority, with the first six being ones who entered JE in or before 1995, down to the 1996 group from Aiba at #7 to at least #12 with Yashiro, all the way to the youngest Kanto Jr., Miyagi, at #20. And then you have the five Kansai Jr. at the very end. And even then, Yokoyama, whose movie with Aiba and Jun was coming out soon, has the smallest number out of the Kansai juniors. 

This trend continues into the marathon--in the beginning anyway--as Takki and Kohara were the two in definite lead at first, something that was no accident in my mind (though Kohara is really good at sports in general, as you'll notice when you watch 8J or the Johnny's Sports Day videos), especially since they were running on either side of the coach, like in the screenshot below. Miura is in the shot too, but you can clearly see that the focus was given to Takki and Kohara. 
Some close-up shots from various points of the marathon:

Osaka Shunsuke

Aiba Masaki

Maruyama after reaching the goal

Kohara took off his shirt due to the heat

MatsuJun, coming in last, approaches the goal accompanied by Maruyama and Yasuda
The result: (Ones in bold were given close-up shots at the goal point)

1. Maruyama Ryuhei (1h28m57<- wow he's fast...)
2. Yasuda Shota  (1h33m31)
3. Miura Tsutomu (1h38m55)
4. Yashiro Tokuhisa (1h39m48)
5. Kohara Yuki (1h55m03)

6. Matsumoto Kazuki(1h55m37)
7. Kazama Shunsuke(1h56m28)
8. Osaka Shunsuke (1h59m59)
9. Yamazaki Tetsuhiro (2h04m14)
10. Murakami Shingo (2h05m43)
11. Nashimoto Takeatsu (2h05m46)
12. Yamashita Tomohisa (2h09m48)
13. Morichika Masashi (2h15m01)
14. Uesato Ryota (2h16m03)
15. Iwasawa Yusuke (2h16m28)
16. Aiba Masaki (2h16m50)
17. Takizawa Hideaki (2h19m06)
      Takahashi Yuzuru 

19. Yokoyama You (2h23m15)
20. Nishikido Ryo (2h31m33)
21. Koba Ken (2h33m27)
22. Kawano Naoki (2h36m12)
23. Ninomiya Kazunari (2h26m19)
24. Miyagi Shunta (2h36m55)
25. Matsumoto Jun (2h37m41)

Looking at the time difference between the last two, I'm a tad bit suspicious that Jun coming in last, or at least Maru and Yassu running with him to the goal, was a set up to showcase friendship between the juniors with a better known junior. Before Yassu and Maru went over to run with Jun, he was also walking instead of running. He might have simply gotten tired and given up, but it does make you wonder... Well, not like we'd ever know for sure. 

  Third Segment: Live with Kahara Tomomi  

This being a JE-centered post, I won't waste time introducing the guests unless the guest is a JE artist. To that end, here are some screencaps of the back dancers for the first song:

Tsubasa at last! Like Toma, Tsubasa also was acting in a tv drama in the spring season of 1998, which probably explains his absence from this episode aside from the Live segment (almost definitely recorded separately, as the stage setting is different and the segment was presented as an VTR). In this part, something to watch for is Miura's dance on roller skates. Those spins on roller skates are certainly impressive! (Remember when I said Miura was good at dancing aside from being funny?)

The next song's back dancers are mostly the small juniors (and cute doggies!). Toma is also present, and in different costume compared to everyone else. Wanna bet that the focus on Tsubasa and Toma respectively in the two songs is to make up for these two not being in the rest of the episode? In the second shot above, you can see Yamapi wearing the same costume as the other small juniors holding a dog in close-up. Although Yamapi and Toma would start appearing in shows and magazines together a lot, starting with Ai Love BIG later in the same year and into junior shows in later years, there was still a clear difference in positions at this point, though judging from this song, there are signs of Toma being shifted away from the rest of MAIN, and becoming one of the top junior figures for a yet younger group. From the jimusho's point of view, it's probably a logical choice because of Toma's larger age difference with the rest of MAIN (Toma is more than a year younger than Jun, whereas the eldest, Aiba, is only around 6 months older than Nino. And of course, Nino and Jun are merely a couple of months apart) and the fact that he looks younger comparatively too. However, as a Toma fan, I do wonder... What if?

Anyway, moving on. 

Fourth Segment: Jr. Masterpiece Theatre
Takki again, reenacting The Bodyguard. Not that interesting for the purpose of my post, but quite funny to watch. Yes, funny. Like someone commented in the commentary part after watching the VTR, it's more of a comedy skit than a serious reenactment. All in all a cute segment where they get to practice some of their acting chops. 

And thus ends the first episode of 8J. What do you think? I know I was hooked from the first time I watched it, but I'm certainly biased since I was already somewhat of a Golden Age fan from watching clips of Ai Love Jr and the Sugao concert series. 

As for future entries, they will probably be significantly shorter, especially as I finish introducing the lesser-known juniors from the period (ones I'm actually familiar with anyway). In the mean time, I welcome any and all feedbacks, concrits, and suggestions about what to talk about and include.

Till we meet again!

Current Mood: lazylazy
Current Music: 明日に向かって - ジャニーズJr.
amayayayayayaamayayayayaya on June 14th, 2012 04:11 am (UTC)
Wow! I just have to say thanks for putting together this post, and I really hope you'll continue this series! I've seen a couple of 8J episodes before, but due to my rather limited knowledge of Japanese, it was a little difficult for me to follow along. Plus, it's so hard to find information in the English fandom on a lot of the juniors who left.

Anyway, I'm really, really looking forward to future installments of this.
Kavya B: hugkavya_kvb on July 15th, 2012 09:16 am (UTC)
my goodness! what detail! i agree with amayayayayaya that it is very difficult to find information about the golden era of juniors back then! i myself became part of the fandom(toma's) only in late 2010, so to be able to see this after such a long time makes me feel so nice! thank you so much! :)
eirwen555: Akihabaraeirwen555 on July 15th, 2012 09:15 pm (UTC)
It's great to see people interested in that bit of JE history, and a fellow Toma fan too! I didn't actually live through it as a fan but I'm in love with it nonetheless, so I delight in knowing that people out there still care about those old shows and people long gone from 10+ years ago.
Kavya B: thumbsupkavya_kvb on July 16th, 2012 10:38 am (UTC)
*high-five from a fellow toma fan :D*
i honestly never expected to stumble upon this post, i was looking for lyrics of the songs sung by 4TOPS and other juniors during Shounen Club and came here. It's always so much fun reading back on how our biases were back then. I like history of this kind! xD
asweetsymphonyasweetsymphony on November 14th, 2012 05:09 am (UTC)
Hey! This is really late but I just happen to stumble in here after looking for more information about the golden age. :D like you, I'm a big admirer of that generation. Everyone has really strong personalities and in my opinion, they are the most talented and entertaining era for the juniors. Really interesting how you analyzed their seating arrangement to identify popularity or seniority. Never thought of doing that. Thanks a lot for this very helpful and fun info.
farsju: T&T looking goodfarsju on February 1st, 2013 06:44 pm (UTC)
(a little late but have to write this nonetheless)
Thank you for this post. Although I've seen this and quite a few more 8J episodes before because I love the JE Golden age I always wondered about the background story of the other not-anymore-so-well-know juniors.
Especially I always wondered what happened with Osaka because he suddenly disappeared from screen, now I know ...
I always enjoyed watching the seating arrangements.
Good post. Maybe something more one day? Such a shame not so many people are interested in JE history ....