Arashi isn’t called the national idol group for no reason; the 5-member group turning 20 today has garnered admiration and respect from fans, fellow Johnny’s, and people in the industry over the years thanks to their hard work, professionalism, and humility — collectively and individually. Reading accounts on their demeanor or work ethic off-camera, especially from ‘non-fans’, never fails to warm my heart yet make it swell with pride. Because nothing is more comforting than knowing that the people we look up to are actually good people.
And while i wish i could catalog those anecdotes, it’s way easier to dig up the on-camera ones. But that’s not what this post is about. Like the title says, it will be about the fans each of them has from the industry and the different ways those people express their love in front of their faves. I use the term ‘fans’ broadly here and put ‘boy’ in brackets as they’re mostly male.
When i first entered the fandom back in 2009, Jun was arguably the most popular of the five. The group was still riding high on Hanadan’s after-effects (it’s just a year after the final movie hit the theaters) and Jun was still on Domyouji mode. Naturally, most personalities guesting on their shows named Jun as their ichiban; the biggest of whom was probably Morisanchu’s Oshima Miyuki. She — or the trio — would appear pretty often on Arashi’s programs either as a guest or a commentator. Though comediennes can get really shrill and in your face, she is personable and modest — and sometimes cute too. She once shared how she joined the fanclub using her real name and flaunted the concert ticket she won through balloting. She’s a relatable celebrity-fan who can get real too when push comes to shove. Like how she firmly prevented Jun from tasting the bentos brought by a group of comediennes to the Share House episode when he had to fast for a medical check-up the next morning, or chastised Sho on The Yakai for deeming marriage a risky move when he’s at the appropriate age to settle down, convincing him that true fans would wish for his happiness. I honestly couldn’t agree more.
If we’re talking about lately, however, then a different name would pop up: Golden Bomber’s Utahiroba Jun. The band came to Arashi’s shows a couple of times but i was never aware of him being a huge Jun-fan until the 2016’s VS Arashi episode where he came without his bandmates and openly professed his love for his same-name idol. On recent Nino-san and VSA episodes, he shared how he’s basically fated to be Jun’s fan. First off, they share the same given name, different kanji notwithstanding. Secondly, they were born on the same date, two years apart only. Thirdly, they are both the youngest member in their respective group. Lastly, their member color is purple. Too many coincidences, no? His most prominent appearance is probably last year’s birthday episode where he led Juns Team and became the representative of Jun’s fans throughout the episode, not to mention getting to hand him a birthday bouquet — which he got to do again this year.
And then there’s the so-called ‘ikemen hub’ of his. Which basically is a circle of good-looking actors he’s friends or acquainted with (whose ‘members’ are too many to name; check his MJ Club corner for reference), not counting the directors etc he chanced upon at certain bars he frequents, the exact place of which always gets the other members curious. Hee.
He’s generally flustered but kind toward those professing their love to him on TV. Even during his stoic phase, he’d be a dere toward Oshima-san. As for Utahiroba, Jun once thanked him for his tweets of him (meaning he read/kept track of his account), talked about him watching Narratage for x-number of times at Arashi concert, knew his birthday and handed the bouquet back to him on both occasions.
The second youngest is the second member whose celeb-fans i can easily make a list of. The self-proclaimed good-looking guy then Hollywood star garners admiration from fellow industry people mainly because of that: his looks or acting. Or more recently, gaming hobby/skills. Or his smooth skin (despite using no skincare). Model Youn-A once kept stating how she liked Nino if only for his face, his same-age or older costars would dote on him (e.g. Yoshinaga Sayuri, Kimura Takuya, Koizumi Kotaro), while the younger ones would become sort of his disciples — or gaming buddies (e.g. Yamazaki Kento, Takeuchi Ryoma, Hongo Kanata, HSJ’s Yamada).
The one who first came to mind regarding Nino-fanboys is Kansai Jr’s Nishihata Daigo. He is currently the most devoted member of Ninomiya Cult as well as the one fully internalizes Ninoism: his mannerism really resembles him, he kinda looks like him, too. He started becoming a fan since Ryuusei no Kizuna but when asked what he liked about Nino, his answer was his existence. Pfftt. He reportedly often gushes about him in his j-web entries and even gifts lounge-wear as birthday present upon hearing that Senpai doesn’t buy clothes. So far, he gets to star in the same movie (albeit not the same screen) and CM with Nino.
Another one is Kanjani8’s Maruyama, or the 2012 Shiyagare episode with all seven Eito members where he turned down Sho’s fondness because he liked Nino — enough that he tensed up sitting next to him and couldn’t even look at him. But he may have gotten over it, because on his VSA guesting in 2017, he didn’t show any of those signs even when he was paired up with Nino for Cliff Climb.
The thing about Nino is that he is a huge fanboy himself and has had his fair share of embarrassing fanboying moments — to Takeuchi Yuko in particular. And despite his bratty sharp-tongued exterior, he is nice to his fans. Yes, he’d gloat when named one’s ichiban, and he can be quite a jerk (e.g. ribbing/exposing them or ghosting on them), which sounds negative on paper, but hearing how the other party keeps wanting to hang out or reconnect with him after the fact says a lot about his character and companionship. For example, when the rest of Eito were making fun of Maru’s nerve, he jumped to his defense and tried to take the edge off. And despite his super-stingy persona, he can be quite generous too. For example, he promised to give Daigo 20,000 yen on both times he guested on VSA; he even gifted him the guitar he used for The Digitalian’s Merry Christmas! Boy must have treasured it for life.
It was difficult recalling those who had openly expressed their adoration of this ball of sunshine… except Nankai Candies’ Shizu-chan. Which dated way back to Shukudai days. She had been a longtime Jun-fan until a certain drama-like happening with Aiba prompted her to switch her allegiance. It was an episode of Tensai! Shimura Doubutsuen where she was attempting to jump over a rhino but slipped and Aiba caught her before she hit the ground. Her interest was still alive in 2013 where she played BabaArashi in the same block as him and was blushing when Aiba took some time to take a card off her. She is really timid for a comedienne, though her confession was quite bold then.
Other than that, i only knew of his closest buddies (Kazama Shunsuke and K8’s Yoko) or the kouhais he’s quite close with (such as HSJ’s Inoo or J-West’s Ryusei who saves his number as ‘Tenshi-chan’ (Angel-chan) and gets the honor to be his no.1 underling, lol). The rest is mainly about him eating out with his kouhais/Jrs or tweets about the latter’s anecdotes of him. E.g. Sato Ryuga apparently joined Johnny’s because he liked him or SixTONES’ Kouchi mentioned telling Aiba that he admired him, but after receiving his smile and thanks, he witnessed him walking into women’s dressing room by accident. LMAO, tennen Aiba strikes again.
But yeah, some would argue that Aiba’s biggest fan is none other than Nino. The more the tsukkomi strikes the tennen, the more he reveals how much he knows about him or shows the 20+years friendship history between these Soubusen nakamas.
His reaction to Kouchi’s remark was hilarious, and his reaction to Shizu-chan’s confession wasn’t any less amusing. He was encouraging her to just spill the beans on her then-new crush but was literally taken aback then falling to the ground upon hearing his own name instead. He also quickly okay-ed her request so they could move on from the topic, but the other members ain’t letting that slide, prodding if his OK was indeed a green light meaning he agreed to date her. Haha. Besides treating the kouhais to a meal, he also often gives hand-me-down things, such as clothes and wallet to Ryusei or a dining table lamp in his house to Inoo because the latter casually asked for it.
[Who else can remember what Nino said in the right scene just by seeing the screencap? 😁😁]
Nino to Aiba is basically how Jun is to Sho — or Sho is to Jun, given their reversed dynamic in recent years. The Sakumoto ship has also been sailing a lot in the past two years or so. That’s about how long i’ve been exposed to this pair’s charm. Because for the longest time, i couldn’t understand why there were so many ShoJun shippers when these two barely interacted, did fanservice and whatnots, let alone skinship; Gap-san was always present between them, you know. I thought it was due to their rather similar personality that they couldn’t joke off, goof around, or be chill yet soft the way Sakuraiba, Jishaku, or Yama operate. Then i read about the alleged “ice age” period between them and how Jun used to be a huge and clingy Sho-fan during Jr era until early Arashi years. Only they know if such period truly existed, though Sho wrote about Jun’s changes circa Gokusen and him losing the right balance to deal with that in the 5×20 pamphlet. The youngest, however, has loosened up and gotten dorkier considerably in recent years, which in turn made positive impacts to their relationship. Now we all rejoice while still ribbing their push-pull dynamic, which could very well be a calculated move. Like how they would go “Hey Sho” “Hey Jun” in concerts but reverted to their ‘usual’ selves when it was DVD filming day. Sigh.
Before learning more about Sakumoto ‘history’, all i could think of regarding Sho-fans were the onee (among the five, he seemed the most popular in that community) until Aniki-kai came around. It is basically a group of doting kouhais, although it is quite an unexpected news since all this time, he often mentions hanging out with his school/university friends in his private time instead of his fellow Johnny’s, also because of the number of people in it: KAT-TUN’s Ueda, SZ’s Fuma, NEWS’ Massu, Kisumai’s Fujigaya and Senga, and J-West’s Junta.
We heard about his rendezvous with Fuma first although Ueda is his favorite. How can he not adore him, though, when he’s willing to be a scapegoat for Aniki, would protect him even from bullets, wanted to blow up the cars in traffic in front of him so he could meet with Aniki on time, berated those bullying Aniki on variety shows (i loved these bodyguard-y moments so much that i wish he could be a semi-regular on Yakai), and even swallowed his hate-to-lose pride to let Aniki win in BabaArashi. And oh! He won’t lose to Utahiroba in terms of his devotion to his idol: he presented a red bouquet for Sho’s birthday episode on VSA this year, which elated the recipient to no end. And he’s truly cherished in that small squad of his, so much that Ueda told Fuma off for being too casual with Aniki, or that Massu complained that Sho-kun spent a lot of time with the other two and kinda left him out — he also wished to receive his love. Heh.
Bonus: then there’s figure skater Hanyu Yuzuru whipping out his personal phone and asking to take a picture with Sakurai caster on TV, after being interviewed for his second Olympic gold, because they also took one in Sochi, which he treasured and looked at numerous times.
Sho is not only showering his admirers with attention but also pampering them. He won Ueda’s heart by looking out for him during his tough times (making him go, “Ah, so someone who can be this nice to me does exist.”), the same way he did to Gaya before he finally debuted, or the way he ‘saved’ Toma who had thought he lost when he had to backdance for Arashi through simple yet sincere words of thanks. As for King Matsumoto, rumor has it that Sho used to tutor then push him to finish high school, not to mention giving him a sleeve button. The last point though. We all know the importance of giving/asking for one’s uniform button, right? As for other kouhais, he’d usually gift watches for commemorations.
Being named as one’s ichiban always surprises Riida, because it doesn’t happen often, but it’s easy to point to his no.1 fanboy: HSJ’s Chinen Yuri. He entered the agency because liked him very much; he still dreams of backdancing for Arashi that as per Nino’s evil suggestion, he’s willing to return to being a Jr for that; he also deemed starring in a movie with Ohno a happier occasion than debuting; he claimed to have adopted his hunchback and way of walking through watching/spending time with him; and he possibly chose pink as his member color because Ohno’s used to be that color (which he still uses for his earpieces).
He’d get closer to the kouhais he co-starred with (e.g. J-West’s Kotaki) yet admits to having barely any celeb friends besides the four of Arashi and Ueshima Ryuhei. Though i think Kato Ryo would happily join the club. He almost exclusively appeared on Ohno’s corners and managed to bring out the tsukkomi and onee side of him — the side i’d barely seen of our captain before — as well as make him laugh out loud. He even got class 1 boat license of his own accord, in his private time, so he could be of help to Ohnomaru. Or maybe Oguri Shun too. He may be bff with Jun, but he’s an Ohno-fan since 2003. In fact, he took advantage of the friendship to get Ohno’s uchiwa and autograph from Jun. LOL. He even got vexed at Rola who claimed not to know about Ohno’s talents/skills: a great singer, dancer, artist. Most fans admire him for the gap between on-stage and off-stage Satoshi.
Unlike the other four, Ohno is quite a DoS or troll to his admirers — except Shun. Like, he threatened to delete Chinen’s number off his contact list if the boy didn’t play his game and kept stalling eating out with him even after the latter had to win the flying trapeze game for it. He fulfilled the promise only after Chinen called him out on Aiba Manabu. KAT-TUN’s Kame has been left hanging about their sushi date too (cmiiw). He’s also a meanie to Kato Ryo; he’d kick the latter upon revealing himself or hit his head for being loud… but also let him steer his boat and praised him. (I enjoy their dynamic and loved every variety episode Kato Ryo was on.) He would also call them by their first names (i always go ?? for a few seconds every time he says “Yuri”) and let them call him Oh-chan. He’s more like a tsundere, huh?
Most Arashians love Arashi as 5 and like all five members quite equally while still having an ichiban, but some would just say they like Arashi in general. The biggest Arashi’s fanboy award easily goes to NTV announcer Aoki Genta (although he’s a Johnny’s fan, to be more accurate). He wears the member color of any Johnny’s he’s interviewing — from tie, vest, to underwear — and counts the days and hours since their last meeting. He’s so dedicated he makes a table of every debuted Johnny’s member color and passes it to editing team to be used for correct captions’ colors. And being a fan helps him to know a whole lot more about the groups/members and hence asking unique, interesting questions, and look really excited in every interview.
From the same announcers line, Itou-san, Hatori-san, and Masu-san have built good rapport with Arashi. too, though they aren’t a fan per se. However, Hatori-san once admitted to digging up inside info from them so he could have something to talk/brag to his daughter who was a fan. Heh.
Then there’s Ayano Go who shared having an overflowing love for the group. He sang Truth when karaokeing with Nino, watched SekaMuzu, his first drama in a while, and commented the perfect timing I seek was inserted in it. Therefore, something he wanted to do no matter what was being an Arashi member and took a jacket cover’s photo with them. But knowing how Arashi is uncompromisingly a five-member group, he decided to take over a member’s spot for Are You Happy? recreated cover. He knew when the quintet’s ‘real’ birthday is and posted an IG post following the hiatus announcement.
There are certainly a lot more than what’s included here, but that’s all i can recall for now. I don’t even know if some of them are still a fan. One thing for sure: Arashi treasure and are thankful for every single fan no matter who their ichiban is and how long they’ve supported them, even if they are no longer a fan. Because each of them — longtime or new, current or former — contributes to the foundation and pillars that have been supporting and propping them up throughout the years. They also state on numerous occasions how they remember the faces of fans who come to their concerts (often). And they keep in mind the people they’ve interacted or connected with even for TV programs. Which is evident when they were ‘reunited’ with some of them on this year’s 24-hour TV.
They’re observant and considerate, too. For example, Sho noticed and pointed out the red things Aoki-ana wore during their interviews, and realized when a certain fan they affectionately called “niiyan”, who appeared quite a lot during D no Arashi days back in 2003, stopped coming to their concerts. (He got to tell them that wasn’t because he quit being a fan but because it was getting harder to win tickets as the fanclub number grew bigger and bigger.) They know exactly when to take the lead and when to step back to give the spotlight to other members or guests on their shows; when to be haughty senpais and when to be humble kouhais.
The rule of thumb is: the meaner they are to somebody, the closer they are to that person. 😈😈