Home > Arashi, Hey! Say! JUMP, Johnny's, Kanjani8, KAT-TUN, KinKi Kids, NEWS, Rambling, SMAP, Tackey & Tsubasa, TOKIO, V6 > Obligatory Ranking Post (the very belated and lengthy sequel)

Obligatory Ranking Post (the very belated and lengthy sequel)

I gotta say, I love posts that inspire discussion and all – I really do, even if I’m not a very talkative person myself – but let’s take a different track this time. Sorry to say, not every post can be as awesome and provoking and thought inspiring. Or maybe just plain provocative.

At long last, I finally offer you another ranking post.

No, really, it’s been a long time. To say that things have changed is a bit of an understatement. As with last time, the ranking post has been done with the Johnny’s CD Debut groups ranker at BATHKAME (but if you use it, bear in mind that as it’s Japanese, it’s all in kanji. An English version with the addition of Kusano/Uchi/Toma/other long-standing juniors can be downloaded here.) Top 9 (because to include everyone 10 and up would be to count 23 people) are bolded.

Ranking (Last) Name
1 (32) 三宅健 (Miyake Ken – V6)
2 (20) 井ノ原快彦 (Inohara Yoshihiko – V6)
3 (20) 森田剛 (Morita Go – V6)
3 (32) 岡田准一 (Okada Junichi – V6)
3 (32) 長野博 (Nagano Hiroshi – V6)
3 (32) 坂本昌行 (Sakamoto Masayuki – V6)
7 (1) 二宮和也 (Ninomiya Kazunari – Arashi)
7 (5) 堂本光一 (Domoto Koichi – KinKi Kids)
7 (7) 中居正広 (Nakai Masahiro – SMAP)
10 (10) 横山裕 (Yokoyama Yu – Kanjani8)
10 (1) 櫻井翔 (Sakurai Sho – Arashi)
10 (5) 松本潤 (Matsumoto Jun – Arashi)
10 (3) 大野智 (Ohno Satoshi – Arashi)
10 (3) 相葉雅紀 (Aiba Masaki – Arashi)
10 (10) 長瀬智也 (Nagase Tomoya – TOKIO)
10 (32) 松岡昌宏 (Matsuoka Masahiro – TOKIO)
10 (32) 山口達也 (Yamaguchi Tatsuya – TOKIO)
10 (10) 国分太一 (Kokubun Taichi – TOKIO)
10 (32) 城島茂 (Joshima Shigeru – TOKIO)
10 (32) 木村拓哉 (Kimura Takuya – SMAP)
10 (32) 草なぎ剛 (Kusanagi Tsuyoshi – SMAP)
10 (32) 香取慎吾 (Katori Shingo – SMAP)
10 (32) 稲垣吾郎 (Inagaki Goro – SMAP)
24 (8) 堂本剛 (Domoto Tsuyoshi – KinKi Kids)
25 (10) 亀梨和也 (Kamenashi Kazuya – KAT-TUN)
25 (10) 増田貴久 (Masuda Takahisa – NEWS)
25 (32) 村上信五 (Murakami Shingo – Kanjani8)
28 (32) 丸山隆平 (Maruyama Ryuhei – Kanjani8)
28 (32) 安田章大 (Yasuda Shota – Kanjani8)
30 (20) 錦戸亮 (Nishikido Ryo – Kanjani8/NEWS)
30 (16) 小山慶一郎 (Koyama Keiichiro – NEWS)
30 (16) 加藤成亮 (Kato Shigeaki – NEWS)
30 (32) 渋谷すばる (Shibutani Subaru – Kanjani8)
34 (32) 赤西仁 (Akanishi Jin – ex-KAT-TUN)
34 (32) 田口淳之介 (Taguchi Junnosuke – KAT-TUN)
34 (32) 田中聖 (Tanaka Koki – KAT-TUN)
34 (32) 上田竜也 (Ueda Tatsuya – KAT-TUN)
34 (20) 中丸雄一 (Nakamaru Yuichi – KAT-TUN)
34 (10) 山下智久 (Yamashita Tomohisa – NEWS)
34 (16) 手越祐也 (Tegoshi Yuya – NEWS)
34 (32) 大倉忠義 (Ohkura Tadayoshi – Kanjani8)
34 (32) 藪宏太 (Yabu Kota – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 八乙女光 (Yaotome Hikaru – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (20) 中島裕翔 (Nakajima Yuto – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (20) 山田涼介 (Yamada Ryosuke – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 有岡大貴 (Arioka Daiki – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 高木雄也 (Takaki Yuya – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 森本龍太郎 (Morimoto Ryutaro – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (16) 知念侑李 (Chinen Yuuri – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 伊野尾慧 (Inoo Kei – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (32) 岡本圭人 (Okamoto Keito – Hey!Say!JUMP)
34 (20) 滝沢秀明 (Takizawa Hideaki – Tackey & Tsubasa)
34 (20) 今井翼 (Imai Tsubasa – Tackey & Tsubasa)

And there you have it – the state of my current Johnny’s fandom. Let’s get the obvious observation out of the way first – Miyake Ken leapt like Superman. Second obvious observation – there is some serious clustering going on here.

The General Trend

To start with, I actually have to reference a line in this post:

Is [a bad fan] a person who likes only one part of the whole, instead of the whole?

Meaning – if you call yourself a KAT-TUN fan and hate Kamenashi Kazuya, are you a bad KAT-TUN fan? Could you call yourself a good Natsuyaki Miyabi fan if you liked her stuff with Berryz, but not with Buono? Exactly how much of a Koda Kumi fan are you if you groove to her slutty dancepop but fall asleep at her ballads? And can I really say I’m a Johnny’s fan if there are groups I hate?

It’s a mixed bag of a question. I’m not saying that to be a fan, you have to love everything about something. Even when people bind themselves with another person for life there are bound to be irksome mannerisms between the two. But at the same time, if you like Matsumoto Jun and not the rest of Arashi, you really shouldn’t be calling yourself an Arashi fan at all.

My approach to it is to at least treat the whole as open-mindedly as possible once I’ve decided to go for it. So even when I acknowledged myself as an Arashi fan, despite my initial distaste for Matsujun, I tried to at least not let that distaste flavor my fandom. And when I decided I was going to call myself a Johnny’s fan, that meant giving all the groups a try, and more importantly, giving all the groups’ members a chance.

Way back in 2008 – over three years ago, now – I’d only just resigned myself to being a Johnny’s fan. Certainly with the prevalence of SMAP and the You&J groups, I knew about them. But the Johnny’s I revolved around were the KinKi Kids, half of whom was my major downfall into Johnny’s, and Arashi, who sealed the deal. Now it’s been three years. That’s a lot of time for change. Everyone and the Voltronites have grown (some old enough to actually participate in Countdown past midnight), Jin has left KAT-TUN (if you didn’t know that, then the rock you’ve been living under must be pretty cozy. Care to loan it to me sometime?), Kusano is never coming back (face it already, fangirls), and most importantly, I’ve gotten to know more about Johnny’s and more Johnny’s themselves.

I’m not really a history buff, but there certainly is a lot to admire about the past, and particularly in relation to continuous idols. There is a definite fascinating quality to being able to see idols grow, even if it’s only on one end, and I would point out that this holds true whether or not you like Johnny’s idols. The various changes in Morning Musume’s lineup, the expanding popularity of AKB48 (and its sister groups) and comparing it to predecessor Onyanko Club, the evolution of D-BOYS as a unit, or even just the physical and musical growth that w-inds./(no longer FLAME)/Lead have gone through.

Put bluntly: Seeing Johnny’s in the 90s is like looking at a car wreck. It’s horrible and yet you just can’t tear your eyes away from it. I grew to like Johnny’s in the late 2000s, so let me be the first to say: I like the modern look. I like the magically corrected teeth. I like that they are boys – no, men – that I can arguably be physically attracted to. What’s in now is what appeals to me because I am in the now.

Yet we can’t deny the awkward transitioning phase that they must all go through, whether it’s because they have to get through puberty (as much of Hey! Say! JUMP did) or because they lack the years of polish that time in the industry will give them (as Kis-My-Ft2 will have to do now). The changes can be profound.

And senpai groups have so much of this because they debuted in the 90s that, really, why would you ever want to look away?

Physical imagery aside, the senpai have plenty to their name. SMAP is often credited with creating the lasting idol – and as they hit their 20th anniversary this year, they certainly deserve a lot of credit. While nowadays Ohno Satoshi, Tegoshi Yuya, and Akanishi Jin are apparently the vocals fangirls cream their pants over, Sakamoto Masayuki won a worldwide competition for covers of the Tarzan theme song, You’ll Be In My Heart, under the name Sakamoto Marsa – and if Japanese wiki is to be believed, complimented by Phil Collins himself when he admitted to singing it a key higher than the original: “Next time, I’ll have to do that.” (Give a listen to the other songs he did for the Japanese version of the movie: Two Worlds, Strangers Like Us, and Son of Man – my personal favorite for the vocalizations at the end.) And you want to talk about member love? Watch any senpai show. Any. They’ve got it in spades, given how the original Johnny’s setup had them all dorming together and especially after working together for so long.

It’s this same member love that makes senpai group interactions in general, including current ones, so enjoyable to watch. SMAP, TOKIO, V6, and KinKi Kids are all no strangers to ribbing on their fellow members, despite the fact that they all most likely don’t meet up with each other unless it’s for work purposes. And when they all get together, no holds are barred. It’s why Countdown concerts with the senpai, old J-FRIENDS videos, and guest appearances on each others’ shows can be such fun to watch. Yes, TOKIO scolding Arashi whenever they appear on their shows is hilarious – but there is still that distinct senpai-kouhai relationship. In fact, that same relationship is exactly why TOKIO is often scolding Arashi – for not respecting it, especially towards “Mabo-nii.” The senpai generation of Johnny’s are equals – equals even beyond the Johnny’s company rule of everyone calling each other with the “-kun” suffix. They don’t need this pretense to mess around. It’s natural, and it’s all the more fun to watch for that. You don’t just adore their individual accomplishments – you come to love the group as a whole.

It’s not hard to presume that this is also why so many H!P wota shat their pants when Dream Musume was announced. With so many old names and familiar faces returning, the glory days were undeniably recalled. And after all, had Nakazawa Yuko, Iida Kaori, and Abe Natsumi not busted their asses to help sell those copies of Morning Coffee way back when, there might not even be a Morning Musume today.

There is definitely something to be said about senpai. That’s of course not to slight those younger and upcoming – they have their own perks, and there is a reason why they have as many fans as they do. It’s their prime, or they’re going to come into their own, and they’ll etch their part into idol history as well.

…at least, I think that’s why Koharu’s included in Dream Musume.

The Individual Results

Okay, enough senpai-praising. If I haven’t scared you off already, let’s attack the actual ranking results and how they ended up the way they did.

In May 2008 (which is why a ranking done in January 2008 doesn’t reflect it), I started getting really into V6 with the release of their single Chou. This escalated when they released the mini-album VIBES in that same summer, and gradually built up as I explored their past discography until we hit the release of LIGHT IN YOUR HEART/Swing! at the end of that same summer.

Let it be said – when I dive into a fandom, I go deep.

At the same time, Arashi’s escalating popularity started to take its toll on me. With multiple ongoing variety shows and plenty more from their past, I fell into the easy rhythm of just waiting for fansubs… and then when the subbed files were done (because this is the Arashi fandom, waiting? What waiting? It’s like Naruto fansubs – everyone’s tripping over themselves to be first.) I put them off until I had “time.” This got worse in 2009, the year of the 10th Anniversaries – including Arashi – and keeping up with Arashi became a full-time job. A few brushes with some rabid fans only cemented my growing distaste, and in 2010 I decided to jump ship and just keep an eye in the crow’s nest looking out every so often.

The path was wide open for V6. A few episodes of Gakkou he Ikou! – which I was introduced to because of their josou prank on Arashi, not gonna lie – and the fact that they had a regular food-centric variety show ensured that I was hooked. I can even tell you for a fact that even on my annual casino trip in 2010, I spent a large amount of time not on the slots watching VVV6, because my main memories of that trip are of watching the cheesecake (dessert, unless there’s some hidden fanservice I haven’t seen before) episodes.

And with V6 storming in where Arashi once held court, my natural inclination (see original ranking post) towards the adorable Miyake Ken already had him high on the roster. Long-time readers will also remember my adoration of Kuitan (starring Morita Go), and with Okada Junichi being as popular as Matsumoto Jun, it was easy to lean towards Coming Century at first. In fact, if forced to pick, I’d still say Coming Century is my favorite of the two subgroups because I like their upbeat music more. 20th Century quickly caught up and they evened out, but no matter how much a fan loves a group, they’ll always have their favorites. So while Ken keeps first place (making the jump from relative dead last to number 1), Inohara Yoshihiko with his oft-exposed two sides (good-humored wacky and thoughtfully mature) took number 2.

V6 now thoroughly dominating the top, my former tied #1, Ninomiya Kazunari ends up in number 7. He was tied with Sho then, but not long after (with the help of certain D no Arashi episodes) he slipped into ultimately 1 – such is why Sho isn’t here with him. Domoto Koichi, who’s been a surprisingly staunch favorite since 2006, keeps his “after the main group” spot at number 7 – only 7 because there are 6 members of V6, whereas last time he tied with Matsujun for 5. To be honest, he probably managed to stay high because of his recent canine acquisition, and my own canine acquisition, after which I’ve become amazingly forgiving of adoring pet owners including Koichi. Also tied at 7 is Nakai Masahiro – who’s one of only 4 people on here whose ranking didn’t change. Though Utaban is sadly long gone, whether he’s on SMAP x SMAP, hosting a special, or talking to fans for Marching J he still doesn’t change his style. (Or his inability to sing.) So why shouldn’t my opinion of him – based off that style – reflect that?

Top 9 past, let’s look at the… fourteen 10s. Well, there are fourteen, but in the fourteen are the rest of Arashi, SMAP, all of TOKIO, and one lone straggler from Kanjani8 – Yokoyama Yu. Arashi’s descent and SMAP and TOKIO’s rise have to do with the senpai fascination – though actually TOKIO’s Nagase and Taichi are right where they were before – but what about Yoko? Well, he’s right where he was before as well. Yoko, as one of the most visible members of the Kanjani Bunch, didn’t really see a decline in activity, and while I’ve slowly dipped my toes into the Kanjani pool, it hasn’t been enough for anyone to overtake him.

Domoto Tsuyoshi, the other half of KinKi suffered a major decline – from 8 to 24 – mostly because of that same senpai fascination. It’s a bit hard to see at first how it backfired on him until you realize that KinKi only have one group show, Tsuyoshi’s solo show was kicked off the air during the three-year interval, and I haven’t watched either because I’ve been so busy catching up on the other senpai groups. Immediately following him are Kamenashi Kazuya and Masuda Takahisa, my two favorite members of KAT-TUN and NEWS respectively, and they’re where they are because they ranked highest out of their groups last time too, and the groups in question haven’t really done anything to change that. Murakami Shingo is the last of the top 25, and as another of the most visible members of Kanjani8, he mostly improved his standing with me thanks to the escape-the-room variety game show DERO!.

Most of the rest of Kanjani8 are sequestered after them – Yasu and Maru are slightly higher because of what appears to be good-naturedness, but I still don’t know K8 well enough for that to make much of a difference – along with the Koyashige duo of NEWS. Koyama Keiichiro and Kato Shigeaki aren’t actually higher than Pi and Tegoshi for any reason of their own, so let’s skip them. (I know, NEWS fans. That happens far too often.)

And in the last bunch – tied at rank 34 – are all there because I either don’t really care about them or because fandom has cause them to be irksome to me. Which is a bit unfair after all my talk about open-mindedness, but the mind is what it is. Hey! Say! JUMP and Tackey & Tsubasa are all there for the former reason – even Chinen, Yuto, and Yamada, who used to be higher.

Everyone else is there for the latter. While I’m not going to be one to brag that Arashi fans are better than KAT-TUN fans, some KAT-TUN fans left a particularly bad flavor on me, which combined with my earlier dislike didn’t help them at all during these past three years. But more directly, Ohkura Tadayoshi didn’t rise with the rest of his group because – despite also being one of the more visible members of Kanjani thanks to his acting – his fans and one of them who I interact with fairly often in particular have made him unappealing. Likewise with Tegoshi Yuya, and for Yamashita Tomohisa it’s a combination of that and overexposure – the same reason I initially disliked Matsujun. More than their actions themselves, I avoid getting to know and like them further because their fans’ behavior reflect in a displeasing manner. It becomes a question of “Do I want to be associated with these people based off my interest in this person?” and not “Do I think the person themselves is admirable/likable?”

That, to me, is probably the biggest reason why the bad fan question is so important.

The Change

Do these changed results reflect a change in the way I fan and interact with fandom? Actually, surprisingly, yes. Let’s focus specifically on V6, though this is probably also applicable to SMAP, TOKIO, and KinKi. The overseas V6 fandom is small – especially in comparison to Arashi and You&J – and at times, very intimidating. Fresh material is limited by the law of idol promotion in Japan – fresh meat always takes precedence. And subbed files and fan graphics, while in existence, are definitely much lower in quantity.

In the Arashi fandom, while I was the one who dragged Ruri into the muck with me, she was actually the key through which I got to know other Arashi fans. Ruri sadly hasn’t been as receptive to the old men of V6 (because Arashi takes up so much time when she has it), so I’ve had to strike out myself. (This is actually quite terrifying for a socially-stunted person like me. I almost never reach out, both online and off. Even my association with Ruri is because she messaged me first.) Since there’s not all that much new material, there is plenty of appreciation for the old, whether on LiveJournal or tumblr. With limited subbed files, I rely on the raws – which not only have prompted and helped me to improve my Japanese, but have also been much easier to keep up with now that V6 as a group only have one regular show. But I took it a step further and decided to help sub, and now I’m arguably making even more of a connection with other V6 fans. (A lot of kowtowing too – I’ve never been part of a subbing effort before and oh the breadth of things to learn.)

To be honest, I’ve never really been happier with my position in the Johnny’s fandom.

Perhaps a large fandom, as lovely as it is to know the talents you support are popular, may not always be the best thing. Sure, I lament that I never have anyone to sing V6 at karaoke with (whereas if I liked NEWS/KAT-TUN or still Arashi, as everyone in New York seems to, I’d have plenty of offers), but I’m also beginning to feel more part of a group of like-minded people. And isn’t that what fandom – essentially a giant club – is for?

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  1. Mellyjelly
    04/09/2011 at 12:44 AM

    that’s so true… honestly, i have little taste for arashi as i am an avid kat-tun fan, but even i must admit sometimes kat-tun fans are a bit, err, crazy. (but let’s not forget teh arashian way of buying 30 cds and/or voting 100 times on polls LOLOL). JE is evolving and (the straight teeth are amazing ^^) i’m glad they are because that’s how life must be lived huh? sempai groups have their novelty but i think the messing around the younger groups do are nicer. (honestly jin’s name made me wince though… i still wish he didn’t do that)

    • Sandy
      05/18/2011 at 3:39 PM

      What are you talking about?

      Arashians way of buying 30 copies? Face the fact that Arashi’s popularity has just increased. At times, they don’t even have a Limited Edition like To Be Free and they only have one copy. You can find crazies in EVERY fandom. Arahsi is just really popular right now so they attract all the crazy fangirls… 😛 Yea, KT has some batshit fans as well.

      I love the senpais. I also love the golden generation of jrs mostly Arashi and Kanjani8. They just have that extra something…

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