If you noticed, there’s something very disturbing about the picture above.
During the time SMAPxSMAP was supposed to go on air last night, the group held a sudden live apology on TV for a little under 3 minutes. If you haven’t already noticed, leader Nakai Masahiro who usually stands in the middle is replaced by no other than Kimura Takuya, the only member among the five to choose to remain with Johnny’s network. This sparked rumours that the recent commotion might’ve displaced Nakai with Kimura. Further, despite Nakai being the leader, the apology started and ended with Kimura.
Looking closer at the attire of the group and you’ll see that the four members who wanted to leave the Johnny’s network are wearing blacker ties, and only Kimura is wearing a whiter tie. What’s worse, Nakai was instructed to stand on the far left, otherwise known as １番の下手 (ichiban no shimote), which is the position for the lowest ranked person among the five. This instruction was caught on tape during the news (see image below).
The above image shows Nakai walking to the stage and being instructed to stand at the “lowest position.”
Nakai was obviously very upset about this as he subtly shows his displeasure and rebelliousness in this frightening case of the dark entertainment industry. Look at the image right at the top again and you can see Nakai pinching himself very hard. The shot below shows how hard he is pinching himself—to the extent that his skin is deformed.
Going back to how this disband story came about, SMAP’s female manager who had raised the group to be the successful idol they are today was asked to leave Johnny’s agency. To show their gratitude to the manager, SMAP decided to leave with her and continue performing as SMAP independent from Johnny’s network, which wouldn’t have caused this much trouble since artistes change agencies and managers often. To their great surprise, however, Kimura decided to betray the four other members by voicing his intention to stay with Johnny’s. This decision means that should the four other members leave, Kimura would belong to a different agency, and thus they can no longer perform together, and they would have to disband. Because of Kimura’s unexpected choice, the band’s decision to go independent unfortunately became “the decision to disband.”
Nakai’s rebellion can further be noticed during bowing, the Japanese way of showing apology.
As you can see, Nakai’s bow is not as deep as the rest of the members. And this is no pure coincidence.
Nakai is famous for making deep bows and this is well-known among SMAP fans. Look at the images below and you can see that his bows are always more than 90 degrees.
Nakai in the middle in both pictures (as he’s the leader) bowing deeper than the rest.
While the words said by most members (“sorry to have caused such an uproar”) appear to be apologies to the fans, it seemed to be for the management at Johnny’s network. Kusanagi Tsuyoshi pointed that out by saying “今回ジャニーさんに謝る機会を木村君がつくってくれて今僕らはここに立てています” (we are here because Kimura created this opportunity for us to apologize to Johnny), which made it clear that the live apology was arranged by Kimura to get everyone else to apologize. And I mean everyone ELSE. Watch the video and you’ll realize that among the five, Kimura was the only person who said no words of apology (showing that the blame goes to the other four).
In a typical ambiguous Japanese style, during the apology, all that was said was that they will continue to work hard and hope for the fans to continue supporting them. Nothing was mentioned about the disband. No one said they are disbanding, which made some assume they aren’t going to. At the same time, neither did anyone say anything that remotely suggests the group is going to stay together. The words sounded as though they deliberately avoided making statements on whether SMAP is going to disband or not.
Two other interesting incidents occurred during the live apology. One is that a fan message on Twitter was shown in two parts on TV.
And if you read the first character on each row, you would see the hidden message from this fan.
It reads “はやく逃ゲて” asking the group to quickly escape (probably from Johnny’s network). It seems plausible because it’s not often 限界 (genkai) is written as ゲンカイ, so the ゲ in that position must’ve been deliberate.
The other interesting thing to note is when a street interview of a fan was done as the same “fan” appeared for interview not just during this SMAP incident, but also past drug-related incidents of Oshio Manabu, Sakai Noriko, and Aska.
Either she is a fake fan employed by the TV station or she just happens to be a fan of so many scandalous artistes.
Images taken from Netgeek