Dedicated to reviewing and coming up with pointless ramblings on all the amazingly kakkoii (and sometimes baka) exploits of the fabulous Japanese band Arashi, composed of the sleepy Riida Ohno Satoshi, the rapper (and honor student/newscaster) Sakurai Sho, the hyperactive ball of fun Aiba Masaki, the ever-charming ever-smirking and fashionably outrageous Ninomiya Kazunari, and finally the manly, sexy, vain perfectionist that is Matsumoto Jun.
Japonism was an album that was made with performance in mind (actually, come to think of it, what Arashi album isn't?), and this year, I had the immense fortune of hitting for amazing arena tickets that just bordered the moving stage's trajectory, so needless to say, I worked Fukuoka into my winter travel schedule, and paid my first ever visit to Yafuoku Dome.
Yafuoku! Dome, under some beautiful, forecast-defying weather on Dec. 17.
I'll skip all the pre-concert drivel, but in short, everything went by without a hitch. I went to the Dome around 3pm to avoid the early morning crowds and shop for my concert goods. It was nice and bright when I got there (see picture above), there was barely any line for the goods, plenty of the venue-limited masking tapes were still available (they hadn't even started limiting the number per person yet), and I got everything I wanted within 30 minutes.
It's that time of year again. It's Arashi album season. And yes, that means staying up late at night to loop these familiar voices in their new melodies. Fear not though, because our fab five have given us a pretty fine album this time!
As any Arashi fan who doesn't live under a rock might know by now, the new album is entitled Japonism (conception by Sakurai Sho), and its overarching theme? To fuse the beauty of Japanese musical elements into the usual pop/rock/whatever-it-is-that-one-labels-Arashi. Now, the whole fusing traditional with modern thing is something that's totally been done before by other Asian artists (Jay Chou, anyone?), and when it's done right, it can be absolutely soul-shatteringly brilliant. So how did Arashi do?
Whenever I hear of a new company engaging Arashi as endorsers of their products, my eyes go bright, and a brief dopamine surge kicks off in my brain as the anticipation buds. Over the years (and I've done a couple of posts on Arashi CMs here and here), the fab five have acted as endorsers for various products, from cars to potato chips (and even diapers, in MatsuJun's case), and even though I don't have the opportunity (or necessity, really) to purchase many of the things they endorse, I still hang on to every frame of their CMs because 1) they're beautiful; 2) they're action-packed; 3) they're humorous; and 4) they always have a happy ending. It's the plastic world of commercials, after all.
I've found that different companies tend to make use of Arashi's image in different ways. For example, Kirin likes to play the OT5 card a lot (perhaps, they feel the completeness of Arashi most keenly, since they were a company who didn't start out with all five members in their initial contract, and had to acquire Nino and Sho after the other three). Kirin's CM's also tend to be light and jovial, which is undoubtedly meant to evoke the frothy, fizzy feel of their beer. Nissan, on the other hand, tended more towards making Arashi look sleek and modern, which of course fit perfectly with the intended image of their sleek and modern cars. In contrast to most others, JAL likes to hover closer to reality, collaborating with Ohno on a jet design and often referencing Arashi's real-life duties as idols in their CM scripts. Hitachi, the other big corporation with all five under its name, places the heaviest emphasis on comedic elements and often casts Arashi in various domestic vignettes to showcase that.
Starting a couple of years ago (2013? 2014?), a new player signed on to deck itself out in the five-colored rainbow, and this was Gungho, the company that developed the popular smartphone game "Puzzles and Dragons" or "Pazudora" for short.
In a relatively low-key, 20 minute program at the end of this July, News Zero gathered three ""unconventional" Johnny's idols for a laid-back heart-to-heart on why they chose to take professional detours from the traditional idol path of singing, dancing, variety shows and acting. The three idols were Ohno Satoshi of Arashi (for his art activities), Sakurai Sho of Arashi (for his role as a newscaster), and Kato Shigeaki of NEWS (for his work as a writer of fiction).
Now, I've admired all three of them for pushing the boundaries of idolhood (though I'll admit I didn't know much else about Shige as a person other than the fact that he liked to fish with Ohno), so I was naturally excited when I heard the announcement of this program. It just seemed like such a long overdue topic, and I feel like it's been quite a while since people were under the impression that idols (or at least, Johnny's idols) had to be strictly confined to the "conventional" idol activities, most of which are aimed at showcasing their physical appeal (whether that be the kawaii or kakkoii factor). I mean, sure, idoldom is still largely considered a field of shallow pleasures, but who really believes that an idol can have lasting appeal based solely on face value and a plastic public persona these days?
Arashi performances are a wonder to behold, whether they're done live in a stadium full of hopping people or in a studio stage with no one but the staff and cameras. So much heart, so much effort goes into an Arashi performance, but of course, what it always boils down to in the end are two things: the song. And the dance.
And boy, do they dance. Over the years, these five boys-turned-men have tried their hands (and perky little butts!) at a broad sampling of dancing styles, from Latin to hip hop, from jazz ballet to straight up breakdance. Go through a string of Arashi performances, and you'll find moves that are contemporary, disco, funk, acrobatic, with a creative sprinkling of experimentation in aerials and traditional Japanese dance. And sometimes, when the day is done and the boys just want to relax, you'll even see the very Arashified version of the "move your body and look dorkily silly" school of dance.
So here, I've endeavored to list some of my personal favorite Arashi dance moves. I tried to choose from a variety of styles, just to showcase how versatile our fab five are! Please enjoy a wonderful gif-filled Arashi dance selection!
Pairings-wise, I honestly don't think there is a single one within Arashi that I don't find myself flailing over. I mean, Arashi's a bag of rainbow-colored fun, and you can mix-n-match and combine the members however you want; all combis turn out to be magical and charismatic! ^.^ But of course, each combi is also different, and as I was rewatching this one episode of Arashi ni Shiyagare (with Yuzu as guests, aired 2011.02.19), I noticed this detail that I couldn't help but tuck away as a little memo to myself.
Basically, Yuzu are introducing Arashi to some lovely Chinese food, and as the chef brings the steaming bowls of noodles to Arashi, we notice, first of all, that there are only three bowls for five members.
That's right. One bowl on the table between Sho and Jun, one bowl for Leader alone in the middle, and one bowl for Aimiya, who are both properly chanting the customary "itadakimasu~!"
It's 2015, fanboys and girls, and Arashi is back with a stunning new single to keep that sparkly spring in our step as we head on into the year of the sheep!
Yes, I'm talking about Sakura, and no, I still can't quite make up my mind if it's about the flower or the imposter, but at this point I really don't think I care, because it's one hell of a seductive song to one hell of a suspenseful drama, and all that matters now is the whirlwind of pink petals and Toma getting bloodied up alongside Juri and everyone's knees swooshing 360 on the M-ste floor and strings strings strings gliding in a frenzy to trickling piano notes that finally end with Leader's reptilian stare after the upsweep of the last violin.
I really had to choose which song I wanted to flail over first. Did I want to wax my poesy over the agitated tremors of each and every string in Sakura or would I rather dive right down the glitzy rabbit hole of the gazillion little dings and zings and be welcomed to Arashi's Rainbow Wonderland all brassy with more and more?
I just rewatched the 2007.06.11 episode of Arashi no Shukudai, featuring Ungirls as the guest, and I noticed this teensy detail between Ohno and Aiba that I never saw before!
Aiba mis-speaks, as usual, so naturally Nino (aka Aiba's primary first-line tsundere) steps up to give him a well-deserved smack to the head.
But then, right after Nino's smack, Oh-chan, who is standing just behind them, reaches out a gentle hand to fix a little tuft in Aiba's hair (which was presumable messed up from Nino's smack just now). Yasashii, Riidaa! <333
You can even see Aiba giving a tiny nod back at Leader, as if thanking him.
Nino is unforgiving though, and doesn't even blink twice before swiping at his best friend's hair again, this time going directly for the part that Ohno just fixed. Haha what a little devil!
Anyways, just thought I'd share this little moment because it made me smile today :-)