The topic that i blog about the most besides dramas and movies is probably Arashi. There seems to be endless things to write about and i enjoy doing it even if such posts took me the longest to finish — due to the extra care paid and details included to ensure they’re interesting to read as well as informatively correct.
But the ‘exclusivity’ of Johnny’s content means non-fans stumbling on these posts or being intrigued to check them out may get discouraged upon discovering the lack of their presence online. Because making the effort to join locked communities or scouring foreign websites to access certain files isn’t for everyone. 😊😊 That’s why i’m glad that Arashi finally enters the digital world and makes their discography (except their b-sides, as of now) available for online purchase/streaming, that now i can embed their latest music videos here or link to the songs i’m talking about.
They also have a currently ongoing documentary at Netflix* who was following them around for over a year and showing behind-the-scenes footage since the start of 5×20 Tour at the end of 2018, which have fans speculating if they would release their concert on there as well, to cap it off. That shall give non-fans a chance to witness the magic of Arashi’s concert^ — which made a fan in the first place — though those curious to see a glimpse of it can sample the five live clips uploaded onto their YouTube channel late last year: from the extraness of their entrance, the scale of the venues, the tricks and maneuvers to get closer to those on the upper back level, and the extent of their concert props and production value… in addition to their dynamics.
That said, the easiest way to get a taste of their brand of entertainment is by checking out their part in Johnny’s World Happy LIVE with YOU starting from 42:09:
It’s arguably a breakthrough for Johnny’s to live-stream performances of their talents, for free and sans region restriction at that, but given the current situation that causes a lot of the agency’s events to be canceled until the end of April (as per April 3rd) including concerts of their various groups and Arashi Exhibition, it’s certainly a well thought-out and much appreciated initiative. They even rented out Yokohama Arena for the occasion, placed lights on each seat acting as fans’ penlights, prepared a proper backdrop, and made it feel as if it was a real mini concert. It was all to cheer up and bring smiles to those affected by the pandemic in any way.
The Happy LIVE was initially scheduled for March 29th to 31st only, but was extended to April 1st with additional performance from Arashi. I thought it was save-the-best-for-the-last kinda move or the-last-boss kinda stage, but it was actually truly a last-minute addition(?) since they talked about watching the others do it and thinking it’d be great if they could do it too and their schedules happened to match for the day. Nevertheless, i was excited for their turn; i expected our concert master to apply his true concert standards to this mini performance… and the result didn’t disappoint, considering the limitations.
Spring tune that’s fitting for graduation period Season opened the 3-song live. All lights went out at the outset and the spotlight began to shine on the members one by one as the intro trickled in. The screen turned to life and projected slides of different flowers from different seasons during the verse and turned into fully bloomed sakura for the chorus. The camera then panned to the empty arena once it reached the interlude (which broke my heart a bit, not gonna lie) but blue lights started glowing up row by row, making for a pretty illuminated background as they sang the final chorus. It was pretty.
Jun then re-introduced themselves and pyrotechnics kicked A.Ra.Shi off with a bang, literally. They performed the full choreo on the main stage until the second chorus then walked down the runway (!!!) with fire effect and finished the song on the center stage. Was it just me or did the harmonies sound extra beautiful in the outro?
The last song was Happiness, because it is a cheer-up song. And how can we not sing along to it when Nino specifically said “to those watching, we want to see your smiles! Sing with us!” then Sho followed up with “C’mon everybody! Hey watching on YouTube channel! All over the world!”??
They goofed around during the verse: Ohno wrapping his arm around Sho’s shoulder and being all lovey dovey whereas Jun acting as an overexcited fan waving at Ninoai from the audience’s seat (ticking off his bucket list to attend Arashi’s concert as a fan? 🤭) before inching forward to high-five the two. The five of them then proceeded to motion the air audience to throw their hands up in the air to the beat like they always do in concerts (Nino even went, “More! More!”). Streamers rained on them as they made their way back to the main stage, as the screen switched to display the 5×20’s ‘cake’, capped by stormy confetti whose deluging level can give Music Station a run for their money. Everything was a blur! LOL.
What i looked forward to the most about Arashi’s part, however, was the Wash Your Hands hand choreo. It is a catchy jingle with easily mimicable moves showing the steps to proper hand washing, and the previous groups did it in various manner (some were serious, some were hyper, some were chaotic) that i wondered how these five’s version would look like. I was thrilled when they began introducing the dance and was thoroughly surprised to hear the song in their voices! The second time around, the lines were even distributed into solos! Their version was also a hook longer.
After that, i anticipated them to create homemade face mask like the other groups had done, but again, this quintet subverted expectations by demonstrating the correct way to wash hands with real soap and water instead — filmed with individual cameras so we can focus on each member at a time and rewatch the 3-minute demo five times over — including the step that’s skipped from the dance routine: rubbing the fingertips on the palm to clean the nails. Not to mention the fact that one paper towel is enough to dry both hands thoroughly.
It may seem like a superfluous no-brainer, but having witnessed time and time again how many people forgo washing their hands after using the loo or wash theirs for less than five seconds on top of knowing its importance especially during this time, it is inarguably a handy footage. That will hopefully entice people to take hand-washing more seriously as well as provide a memorable tune to wash our hands to. Trust me, it will stick to your head right away!
And guess what, it works!
I find myself humming to the jingle since then. And it still amazes me how much this short segment lifted my mood up and made my day (though my brain was still like, but you guys are still too close to one another! when physical distancing wasn’t part of the agenda they’re advocating here) even more so than the performance itself, and how engrossing this seemingly mundane sequence could be. I was too immersed in the fact that the youngest was the instructor, how soapy Nino’s hands got, Aiba’s luscious locks whenever he bent down and his singing to neji-neji plus kuru-kuru wash once they reached the said steps, Sho looking radiant and striking the Black Pean ‘pose’ multiple times, and how sparkly Ohno’s eyes were at the end of it, plus Ninoai showing their clean hands to the side camera instead of their individual’s.
It also made the news the next day, and Johnny’s even uploaded the cut of this portion to their channel two days later. And two days after that, Arashi took another extra mile and posted the song with romaji lyrics and English subtitles onto their social media!
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s wash our hands!
Let’s wash your hands~ wash your hands~
Let’s wash your hands~ wash your hands~”
* I personally haven’t really watched past the first episode since i’m avoiding major spoilers of the tour until the DVD/Blu-ray is out, and those behind-the-scenes stuff/thoughts hurt.
— Update: April 7th —
The actual hand-washing demo was pretty much self-explanatory without Japanese knowledge, but that doesn’t stop Arashi from having that portion subtitled — in respective member colors too! — and uploaded to the group’s YouTube channel, together with the subtitled dance video of Wash Your Hands. Gah. Just how thoughtful they are. *cries*
— Update #2: April 11th —
^ GUESS WHAT?! YOU CAN NOW WATCH THEIR LATEST CONCERT DVD ON YOUTUBE!!
Kindly pardon the all capslock because i thought the Happy LIVE above would be the closest thing we’d get to watching their concert on a free streaming platform, but for the nth time this month alone, they’re overdelivering on the things they can do to help make this trying period an easier, more bearable one for all of their fans: uploading their 「untitled」DVD onto YouTube. That’s the full one hour and 52 minutes of the main concert (minus the MC, encore, and interludes), in glorious 1080p quality at that.
The catch: it’s up for an unspecified limited period only. Though that doesn’t make us any less excited to watch it again for the umpteenth time, this time on the comfort of our chosen device.
So, if you haven’t already, go watch it as soon as you can!