TOPTokyo LifeNews & OpinionTW Pop Culture Update: The Shrinking World of Japanese Entertainment

TW Pop Culture Update: The Shrinking World of Japanese Entertainment

Japanese celebrities struggle with junk food, canceled performances, and show biz graduations

By Cezary Jan Strusiewicz

It’s been two months since Arashi went on indefinite hiatus, and many are still having trouble coming to terms with the fact that the legendary band is no longer. Chief among them seems to be the Arashi member Sho Sakurai, who just last week admitted to dreaming about Arashi for 20 days straight since he and his bandmates went their separate ways. Maybe he feared that the disappearance of Arashi will somehow trigger the departure of more acts and people from Japanese entertainment. Was he worrying too much? Yes. Was he also totally right, though? Apparently so.

Disbandments, Graduations, and Retirements

After barely 3.5 years on the scene and a string of successful singles, the Re:Complex dance and vocal group has decided to permanently call it quits. The announcement was made on their YouTube channel where Re:Complex explained the trouble they were having with performing during the pandemic, citing it as the primary reason behind the disbandment. Their last live performance was on February 22.

While many will be saddened by this, it’s not like Re:Complex was a household name in Japanese entertainment. That’s why news about Zabunguru breaking up hit so much harder. The comedy duo was first formed over 20 years ago, and since then they’ve left their mark on the manzai (double-act-style comedy dialogue) scene. According to Watanabe Entertainment, Zabunguru is disbanding because one of the performers, Yosuke Matsuo, wants to try new things.

All that’s left is to wish Matsuo all the best because it is HARD out there without some kind of group support. Former AKB48 member Natsuki Kojima would know all about it, having “graduated” from the group last October, and recently announcing her complete retirement from showbusiness. That might have had something to do with the fact that Kojima was kind of known for not being a particularly great singer, which might have been overlooked in a group that, despite its misleading name, has over 100 active members at any given time. However, that would probably not fly in a solo act. Kojima will be shortly followed by AKB48 Team 8 member Akari Sato who tweeted on February 8 that she too will soon graduate from the idol group.

Graduations are an integral part of the Japanese idol business, but they also happen in other acts as well. Case in point: the rock band JUN SKY WALKER(S) put out an announcement last month that Yohito Teraoka—who’s been their on-and-off member for over 30 years—will be “graduating” from the band. And, yes, everyone has been talking about how framing the leaving of a 53-year-old man from his band as “graduation” does totally make it sound like they all had a massive falling-out.

This Month in Celebrity Food

As far as celebrity rumors go, people saying that you eat a lot of junk food isn’t the worst one out there, especially if you’re a 30-year-old film star. (Honestly, anything short of straight-up murder is good PR for that demographic.) That’s the boat Kanata Hongo (Gantz, Fullmetal Alchemist, Kingdom) recently found himself in, with fans of his YouTube videos worrying that he only seems to eat gummy bears and potato chips. To address those rumors, Hongo made an offhand remark in one of his videos that a Pokémon soup cup he recently bought would be great for pot-au-feu (French beef stew), which didn’t sound like false overcompensating AT ALL. You know how all 30-year-olds can’t shut up about pot-au-feu.

In other food news, two members of Naniwa Danshi (a Kansai Johnny’s Jr unit) with February birthdays, recently got to enjoy handmade desserts by their two other bandmates, in a clear example of sweet masculinity, as in Japan this is a classic display of love by your girlfriend. But they are still guy friends, so the impromptu cooks had to have fun at the expense of Joichiro Fujiwara and Kyohei Takahashi, preparing them such treats as mille-feuille with bean sprouts and annin almond jelly with pickled ginger.

Even Sho Sakurai has gotten into the cooking spirit. On February 6, he appeared on an NTV variety program where he baked himself a cake for his 39th birthday. In a hotel instead of a kitchen. Between that and admitting to crying into his pillow for three weeks straight, perhaps someone should check in on Sakurai because he doesn’t seem to be handling Arashi’s breakup well.

Demon Slayer Will Be Back

After the Demon Slayer movie, Mugen Train, broke nearly every Japanese box-office record, it was certain that the hit anime will come back for a new TV season. This was officially confirmed on Valentine’s Day, with the new season being slated to premiere sometime in 2021. It will be subtitled Yukaku, which means “Red-Light District” because the idea of “kid-friendliness” is a bit different in Japan.

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