Trouble at Johnny’s has been brewing and it’s about to get worse.
On September 18, Johnny Kitagawa named Tackey (Takizawa Hideaki) his successor. Tackey himself also expressed his intention to serve Johnny’s and announced his own retirement from performing at the end of this year. Following his retirement, he will focus on developing Johnny’s Jr. and work behind the scenes for stage plays. An insider suggested that had this announcement been made any later, things could get ugly at Johnny’s.
Following the recent news, 3 clans have been born within the agency. The first of which includes the top boybands of Arashi, Tokio, and V6 managed by Fujishima Julie Keiko, daughter of Mary Kitagawa. According to a sports paper reporter, “Their strength is their undisputed influence on TV casting, which had been built up by Mary and handed over to Julie. On the other hand, Julie is unwilling to put effort into stage plays where revenue is low compared to the amount of work required.”
The second clan is the newly formed Tackey clan, who, against Julie’s wishes, intends to place emphasis on stage performances. An insider shared that “Johnny’s originally started from stage performances. Under Julie, talented Jr. members are in danger of being left undiscovered. Had the naming of Tackey as the successor been delayed further, it is likely that a large number of Jr. members will leave the agency. Tackey’s role is to support Jr. members and create a sustainable system to further develop and polish them. Such an approach definitely gets onto the nerves of Julie, who has an entirely different approach.”
The last clan of which is formed by the remaining members who are keeping a distant from the above. This clan is made up of former SMAP members Nakai Masahiro, Kimura Takuya, etc. who shall be classified under “Others.” For simplicity’s sake, oldest members Kondo Masahiko and Higashiyama Noriyuki would be placed in this group. But as both also hold shares to Johnny & Associates, it is best to view them as part of the management. And to put things radically, it would seem that they will be fine as long as the company doesn’t collapse.”
At the moment, the 3 clans of Julie, Tackey, and Others, are maintaining some kind of power balance, as with Yomi, Mukuro, and Raizen of Yu Yu Hakusho, or the more familiar Wei, Shu, Wu of Romance of the Three Kingdoms, but this is not expected to last long.
“Someday, Johnny and Mary won’t be around and when the much-trusted Johnny officially steps down from the frontline, Johnny’s will be in a mess. While the popular Tackey is being handed the baton, he still won’t have the same kind of trust Johnny has. The key figures in this power balance lies in the Others’ Nakai and Kimura, both of whom are considered legends in the agency. With Nakai reported to join Iijima Michi’s Atarashii Chizu, where 3 other former SMAP members already belong, it is likely that he will bring with him some of his favorite younger Johnny’s members. While Kimura usually plays mediator in times of turmoil, he will stick with Julie when it comes to the crunch. This has been decided at his wife, Kudo Shizuka’s secret meeting with Mary.”
Although Tackey’s appointment appears to be the stabilizing rock in this whole mess, the truth is, it hasn’t really been settled and any wrong move could spark a huge disaster for the company.