We ask Arashi fans why the boy band is so popular


Arashi is a common Japanese word meaning “storm” but utter it to any Japanese person and images of the top male idol unit in the country will likely cross their minds before those of cloudy skies and overflowing gutters. Not a day goes by without Arashi appearing on some television show, and every album they release is pretty much guaranteed to hit number one.

However, the thing is… we don’t understand why they are so successful. Not to take anything away from Arashi as performers – they’re good looking chaps who have a sound easier to digest than a cup of warm yogurt. We just don’t get why they stand above all of the other boy bands on the scene in Japan who seem to be and do exactly the same thing. So, we sent our reporter P.K. Sunjun to interview Arashi fans and get to the bottom of the group’s appeal.

Mingling with the fans

P.K. headed to Tokyo Dome last week where Arashi was making a stop on their Arashi’s Exciting School tour. As such there were many fans milling around outside the stadium wearing school uniforms. There were also several fans wearing floral wreaths on their head: a popular trend for those attending concerts.

You’d probably expect around 99 percent of the audience to be teenage girls, but there was a fairly wide range of ages and groups consisting of parents and their children.

There were even more guys than expected… not much more… but more. As P.K. started canvassing Arashi fans he immediately noticed something. Nearly 70 percent of the people he asked weren’t really into Johnny’s other idol groups.

Johnny & Associates is an agency that creates and promotes boy bands such as SMAP and Kis-My-Ft2. Although many of Johnny’s other acts have garnered huge success, the people in attendance that day were not all that interested in them, only Arashi.

P.K. felt a sense of awe that this group could break beyond the circle of male idol fanatics sometimes called "janiwota" (Johnny’s otaku) and draw fans from everywhere. However, this still didn’t answer the question at hand: What do these guys do that makes them more popular than others like them?

They get along, like each other, and have a good relationship!

When asked straight why they liked Arashi fan after fan seemed to have the same reply along the lines of “Because they all get along so well!” However, when asked “What else do you like about them?” they paused in deep thought as if asked a legitimate but completely unexpected question like “Besides breathing it, what else do you like about air?”

At the end of their pondering many fans would simply repeat: “They just like each other!” This reason didn’t make a whole lot of sense to P.K. who was beginning to assume that most girls simply found the guys in Arashi hot but were too embarrassed to say so. Still, that alone doesn’t answer the question either. Pretty faces are a dime a dozen in show business and there had to be something else going on here.

Beyond that, how do all these fans really know that the guys in Arashi don’t secretly hate each other’s guts when off stage or camera. One concert-goer was able to shed some light in a way P.K. could easily understand.

“Do you know how many appearances these guys make during live shows and on TV? If there were even a little tension between the members of Arashi, we would easily be able to know.” (Arashi fan)

That made an awful lot of sense. Arashi’s countless appearances in the public eye allowed their fans to always be able to see how they were doing. In that way, the fan might feel a certain connection with the group almost as intimate as knowing Arashi while barely ever being in the same breathing space as them.

Other boy bands may make relatively sporadic appearances or take the occasional hiatus to massage bruised egos, but Arashi simply does not stop. Perhaps in the eyes of fans this shows a certain sense of sincerity often unseen in pop music.

Women love guys who love guys

Not only are the apparent good vibrations between Arashi members what brings in the supporters, but also the fact that ladies really seem to get off on guys acting nice to each other.

For female fans, when seeing members of Arashi display their affections for one another with eye contact, leaning on another’s shoulder, or hugging, a frenzy of excitement is sure to ensue. This was the epiphany that P.K. was looking for and he felt it was a strategy that could work outside of pop music as well. “Based on my results, I’d advise men of the world to get along with other men, be they colleagues, acquaintances, or whatever. Women seem to get intoxicated by positive male relationships, so try your damnedest to be good to one another! Affectionate physical contact seems to be especially effective.”

Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- Angry landowner fights tree-loving boy band fangirls with the ultimate weapon: More trees -- Bowing to the ground: Japanese pop group Arashi inspires extreme fan worship -- Japan votes on the musical act they most want to see in the Olympic opening ceremony

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Because Japanese people have basically no idea what constitutes good music?

2 ( +10 / -8 )

I'm sure 90% of the audience couldn't name 2 songs from these guys, I've actually seen a SMAP event live, it was like a live Japanese TV show with talking and acting and about 5 songs. People go for the entertainment and the "pretty boys"

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

This is one of the biggest issues I have with the Japanese media industry. Johnny's and the like will spend years "shaping" a group's public profile - putting them on talk shows, in the print media etc. and it's all just so fake. I've spoken to countless people who like Johnny's groups and not one mentioned anything about their "music" (and I use that term very liberally).

Then, with their public profile raised, we have to endure them on every advertising medium imaginable. More often than not, for multiple products advertised in the same train. It's just complete overkill. They cannot sing, yet they have albums written for them. They cannot act, yet they get countless generic love drama roles. Then, throw in the movie roles. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It's the bane of modern Japanese society.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I watch the dubbed VArashi show, love it, couldnt say ive ever heard their music though :)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

as one user above already stated, people mostly go for the entertainment, Arashi besides being very stand up guys are pretty funny. Better than SMAP or the overtanned Exile's.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

It is hard to find a boy singing group these days and I mean singing, not screaming, like the others do, reminds me of Backstreet Boys. I like girls singing, but it is not bad to listen to something else and decent for a change.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

These guys are "geinojin". Music is only a small part of their job. Not that I like them too much but except for music, they are pretty good at what they're asked to do.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Their appeal comes from not just music - it's largely because they've been around so long and a lot of people grew up with them as idols, and thus will introduce their children to them as well. The music industry in Japan is based off loyalty, and music is a small portion - their variety shows, endorsements, etc. complement their dome tours and CD sales.

We can all agree that their music isn't top notch and they lip-synch a lot - but Arashi's image is good and they've outlasted every other boy band besides SMAP, so it's no wonder they have so many fans.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Now that I think about it, It kinda makes sense that a good male relationship in a band is a magnet for fans, for them is not about the "music" but the ability to be together and have fun with each other and the public, if they are funny, they do whatever they asked to do and on top of that they show solidarity between them is attractive, is nice to watch a group of good looking boys that don't show jealousy or rivalry, it makes you close to them, I've seen with the Amuse boys when they do the superhandsome live, they show a sense of being family, and that's appealing.

An overseas case would be One Direction, I'm not a fan and I've never listen to them but i did notice that girls were more enthusiastic with them when there were rumors about a couple of the members being "more than friends".

Heck, when you see the ikemen boys of Kamen rider, and you see in live performances that the two male protagonist get along, the public goes wild (like Nakamura Yuuichi and Sato Takeru or Watanabe Shu and Miura Ryosuke), those demonstrations as I known them as "fan service" are a huge hit, and since Arashi is the one that has the most exposure, it makes sense their popularity, it is not the same withe SMAP since Kimura Takuya did some of the works solo, so you can't "feel" that he is close to the band, and I'm guessing it is something similar with other boy band groups.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As a fan of Arashi (and of Johnny's groups) before coming to live in Japan, I speak of my own love of the group.

We know they cant sing and their music is barely "good" by any standards. But, as the article says, the main appeal of the group is their closeness as a group and as true friends. Its true that Japan churns out idol groups by the dozens, some coming and going without any notice. But in that sense, I think that the Japanese public is also better at picking up when sincerity is real or being faked. Not only do fans, who go to countless live concerts and television show filmings, comment on the sincerity of their friendship. But, also the countless staff and production members that they work with behind the scenes always have positive comments about the group and their interactions with each other, with the staff, and with the fans.

Being an Arashi fan is like being in school where there is that one group of friends that ALWAYS look like they're having fun together, no matter what they're doing. And just wanting to be a part of that fun in any way.

After a long day of work, I know without a doubt, that I can turn on an Arashi show for an hour and just be happy. Why wouldn't I want to support something that makes me feel that great?

The eye-candy doesn't hurt either ;)

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Girls like Arashi because Arashi look like girls themselves. Every time I see their stupid ruffled pretty-boy hair and the cosmetics they wear, I despair of Japan's future.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@JoiceRojo "..... it makes sense their popularity, it is not the same withe SMAP since Kimura Takuya did some of the works solo, so you can't "feel" that he is close to the band, and I'm guessing it is something similar with other boy band groups."

I don't think I buy your theory because ALL members of SMAP, not just Kimura, have long been involved in solo projects, from acting in movies and dramas, to hosting variety shows, etc. And the same goes for the members of TOKIO and ARASHI, I see evidence of their solo projects all the time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ALL members of SMAP, not just Kimura, have long been involved in solo projects, from acting in movies and dramas, to hosting variety shows, etc.

Yeah but despite that also Arashi have had solo works, it is not the same because, you can feel closeness between Arashi and it is not the same with Takuya, when he hosts a Tv solo or is a star in a drama you don't see him as part of a group, on the other hand, when you see Jun Matsumoto or Satoshi Ohno in a drama you intermediately relate them to Arashi.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think we can all agree that singing is not and has never been the forte of Arashi (or of any J-idol groups for that matter). There are those that can sing (i.e. Ohno Satoshi), but they all don't share that talent.

What endears them to me (and to many fans) is the sincerity we feel from their actions. I'd be very shocked if, one day, an expose is published telling us that they've been faking their friendship for the past 21 years (cue: royal family).

Above all that, making their fans happy has been at the forefront of their efforts and activities. Profit comes second to that (though I wouldn't blame them anyway if they make it a first priority). Unlike other popular boy bands, I don't feel like they are simply doing things for the sake of money. (I can name a lot of them out there.) And besides, I've been a fan for more than a decade and have spent a total of just USD 120 on them. Imagine that.

Yes, they each have their own solo projects. I would prefer that they keep having solo projects because being in a boy band is not a lifetime career. And yet, they don't fail to incorporate Arashi into their solo works (e.g. mentioning other members, sharing funny anecdotes, etc). They don't try to one-up one another and instead pull each other higher - the hiatus being a very good example of their solidarity. Only Ohno wanted to go on hiatus. Sho and Jun were very averse to it (though they don't mention it publicly). But they were willing to support him in his desire to take some time off - even going so far to say that a group without Ohno is not Arashi.

And yes, if you're not a fan, you wouldn't know their songs. That's normal. I have no idea what Ariana Grande or Taylor Swift's songs are - not a fan and have no plans of listening to them because of my personal preference. But ask any Arashi fan and they will be able to give you a list of their most iconic songs from 1999 to date. :)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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