Warning… I get sorta fangirly with this one :P
While I will probably write more about J-pop and Japanese music and general, I really want to write about one of my greatest interests – the music group Arashi (嵐)! Most of you reading this have probably at least heard about them; they’re super popular in Japan right now. I’ve been a fan of theirs for about five years now. So for any one who’s interested, I’d like to give my introduction to the fandom (^^)
Arashi is an all-male five-member music group that is a part of Johnny’s and Associates. The five of them are young (though they’re in their mid to late twenties now… time flies so fast…), handsome, and have a very fun, happy image. Much of their music is cute and light-hearted, or meant to be uplifting and inspiring, while every once in a while they’ll have something a little darker, which can be interesting too. While I do really, really love listening to their music, I’ll say it right now: I’m not really a fan of them based on the music itself. They have decent voices, but not the best in the world, they can dance, but they’re not incredible at it (except for one of them…which I’ll get to later), and they don’t usually write all their own stuff, so they’re very “commercialized.”
(Still, look at how fun their music is!)
No, Arashi’s charm extends way beyond the music business. First of all, they’re all actors as well, and damn good ones at that, in my opinion. One of the boys, Ninomiya Kazunari, has actually starred in the Clint Eastwood movie, Letters from Iwo Jima, if you’ve heard of that. They’ve all acted on stage before as well, in both plays and in musicals. They have their own variety shows, which I will discuss in a later blog, that are generally really entertaining. Most of them have their own radio shows, one of them is a newscaster, one of them is a visual artist – the list goes on. The most charming thing, though, beyond their talents and activities, are the boys themselves. They all have such unique personalities, and they have amazing group chemistry that feels so real and is so refreshing. I really think that is where the fandom lies.
So… *drumroll* Here are the members!
The leader of Arashi, and famous for being very “unleaderlike.” He’s not very assertive or talkative, and he tends to zone out or just be really odd. The other members poke fun at him for this, but honestly it’s all in good fun as they all love their “Riida”. He’ll make really random comments, and I just think he’s so cute and funny. Ohno is truly an artist in many ways – he’s definitely both the best singer and dancer in Arashi (seriously… he’s an amazing dancer), he draws/paints/sculpts/etc, and he is a brilliant actor both on stage and in front of the camera (Maou, anybody?). I think his quirkiness is really great, and I actually like the fact that he doesn’t necessarily have that charisma that most stars exude.
Sho is a wonderful combination of serious and silly. He’s a great speaker and is actually an accomplished newscaster for News Zero; he’s the only one of the members who graduated, or even went to, college (and Keio University at that); he’s poised, mature, and is often thought of as the actual lead figure of Arashi. On the other hand, he always messes up on all the silly games and experiments they do and is thus always poked fun at; he loves to play with kids and is great at taking care of them; and he makes fun of himself all the time. He’s the rapper of the group and writes his own lyrics, and the rap parts of songs are often called “Sakurap.” The other members sometimes call him “Okaasan” (Mother), which says a lot about him, as he just seems so caring. And I personally think he might be the best looking member of Arashi… (^^;)
Aiba is just a ball of sunshine. He is always soooo happy and excited about everything. He is super silly and dorky and receives many a smack in the back of the head from other members. While he’s made fun of for sometimes messing up dance steps and whatnot during performances, Aiba is actually one of the most athletic of the members. He has a really unique voice that took me some getting used to, but I actually really like it. He often acts like a kid and seems like he’d be a lot of fun to hang out with, but at the same time he isn’t immature or anything and can be really professional.
Nino is the first member I knew about from a drama who “introduced” me to Arashi. He looks like a puppy, writes really fun and cute songs, and he just seems like he would be such a sweetheart. When you see him interacting with the other members or whatnot, however, he can actually be pretty sassy, which I was really surprised by. He gets so sarcastic and cheeky with the other guys, although it’s always in good fun; he’s actually really hilarious. Nino’s the gymnast of the group, and despite his small frame he definitely has a big personality. He is a brilliant actor and even made it to Hollywood with Letters from Iwo Jima.
Probably the most popular member of Arashi is Matsujun. He starred in one of the most famous dramas ever, Hana Yori Dango, among other things. He’s definitely the one with the “cool” image in Arashi, although he definitely has his silly moments as well. He’s the youngest member of the group, but doesn’t really look or act like it. He’s very professional, and can also be a little intimidating. Unlike a lot of people, he’s not necessarily my favorite member, simply because I don’t think he shows enough of his personality, but when he does sort of let loose and be dorky I really like it. He cares so much about Arashi, and I really enjoy him both as an actor and a group member.
I have so much love for these guys. Sure, they’re talented, sure, they’re handsome, but mostly, their personalities and group dynamic is where there charm lies – watching them is just so much fun. I always say, I’m not necessarily an obsessive fangirl with posters of them all over my room and their faces plastered on my folders, Arashi still has the huge role of making my life a bit brighter.
Later on, I’ll discuss how they’re teaching me Japanese :P Stay tuned…