In the world of J-Pop many stars shine brightly only to fade away moments later. Many others fit the mold, stick with what they know, get a little money, and retire. Others grasp for greater heights either by their own volition or the encouragement of their music rep/backer. Trying to stand out becomes even more difficult when you’re a Johnny (member of Johnny & Associates); however, Akanishi Jin (former member of KAT-TUN) is aiming to do just that…and succeeding.
To have a boy wonder though one must first have a leader who has taken the proverbial punches, gained ground against the odds, and made his name as the Dark Knight. Takuya Kimura takes the role for this J-Pop comic tale. While the Batman metaphor loses steam when knock-out fights are, in actuality, chart battles between bands, Takuya Kimura and his band SMAP still rose from the depths of Johnny-dom to come out uber-successful, perhaps more than any Johnny’s band before. Much of that success can be attributed to Takuya’s own too, especially the rise of his personal career as a J-Drama actor.
What Takuya Kimura though has taken 30 years to achieve, Akanishi is hoping to achieve in half that time. Even more impressive, Akanishi Jin is taking his music here to the United States where, both honestly and sadly, J-Pop artists haven’t received the fair shake they deserve. Despite following in the footsteps though of BoA, Utada, the Wonder Girls, JYJ, and many other artists who have helped pave the way the road will still not be easy. Akanishi’s already finding friends though who may ease his travel, such as Jason Derulo who wrote, and will be collaborating on, Akanishi’s debut American single. Of course the question now is will America embrace him and his music?
Whether Akanishi is the ‘last chance’ for J-Pop in America, or perhaps just the next best chance, I’m excited to follow his endeavors in America. May he fare better than those before him, and help open the door further for those following him.