With a Tweet most long-time fans never thought they'd live to see, talent agency and titan of the Japanese pop culture industry Johnny & Associates today launched @johnnys, a Twitter account dedicated to connecting its talent and their work to non-Japanese audiences around the globe.
In its inaugural post, a video pans through shots of massive crowds from concerts held in the biggest venues across Japan (pre-pandemic, of course), interspersed with scenes of the aerial feats, acrobatic stunts, fireworks, and choreographed pageantry its shows are famous for and which have kept its stars fresh and exciting over multiple generations. The operatic and orchestral score of the video is juxtaposed with a simple, two word accompanying message teasing more to come.
Founded in 1962 by the Los Angeles-born Johnny H. Kitagawa, Johnny & Associates has cultivated some of the biggest stars in the history of Japanese entertainment, including household names like SMAP, KAT-TUN, and ARASHI; the latter of whom beat out such global powerhouses as BTS and Taylor Swift for most-sold albums in 2019. The smiling and handsome faces of its newer and rising talent peer out from nearly every metropolitan billboard and primetime TV screen, and even its smallest "celebrities in training"--known collectively as the Johnnys' Juniors--fill theatres and auditoriums with an ease other mid-level acts would kill for. On the other hand, such ubiquity of presence in its home territory has often been lamented for coming at the expense of reach elsewhere, with the lack of much, if any, primary-source information about its stars in anything other than Japanese throttling the word of mouth Anglo-proficient artists take for granted.
While a single Tweet is hardly enough to go on to ascertain long-term intentions, the account's happy blue verification checkmark is certainly a sign that some of the official barriers may be coming down. The passing of its august founder in 2019 was mourned across the nation, but perhaps its new CEO in the person of Johnny's niece and longtime company veteran Julie K. Fujishima--along with Vice President and former Johnny's artist Takizawa Hideaki--is just the leadership needed for their long-awaited expedition into the lands beyond the seas.