To most of us in the West, these circumstances may seem odd, although it ’ south perfectly normal in Japan where it ’ second become standard procedure for anyone working with Johnny & Associates. In cosmopolitan, japanese endowment agencies have rigid rules, as evidenced by paragon Minami Minegishi shaving her forefront to apologise for breaking her agency ’ s no-dating rule .
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In my excitement for Lost Judgment, I started digging for answers as to why the first game didn ’ thyroxine have the fan-favorite karaoke feature. It ’ south been a staple of the series since Yakuza 3, so the minigame ’ randomness absence is foreign — it was reasonably disappointing that Tak and Kaito couldn ’ t belt out their own rendition of Machine Gun Kiss .
I didn ’ t know it at the time, but my curiosity was leading me down a long, messy rabbit hole. My cognition of Kimura lone extended to his career as a J-Pop star, and I had surely never hear of Johnny & Associates. It wasn ’ metric ton until the company name kept popping up in forums and tweets, with fans claiming the talent agency was likely creditworthy for the lack of karaoke in Judgment, that I decided to dig further .
It ’ s fair to say a draw of Judgment players in the West fail to realise who Takuya Kimura truly is — he ’ sulfur not barely some actor or your average J-Pop star. He was one of the singers of male child ring SMAP, the biggest japanese music group of all prison term. not merely are they considered a national gem — they ’ re one of the biggest and most successful bands across Asia to date .
SMAP started in 1988 and didn ’ metric ton split until 2016 ; in that meter, the band conquered not only the music universe, but television, games, radio, film, theatre… you name it, they ’ ve done it. They even had a hebdomadally television receiver show that saw the likes of Lady Gaga and Quentin Tarantino make appearances. It ’ mho hard to convey just how massive SMAP is, but a good case is that one of their songs, The Only Flower in the World, is inactive taught in schools all over Japan .
They were — and hush are, despite no longer being together — a huge cope in Japan. You can ’ t go anywhere in Tokyo without seeing advertisements featuring one of the SMAP guys. The profligacy of the band was met with a lot of controversy, with one of the members of the Prime Minister ’ s cabinet even expressing his business it would negatively affect Japan ’ sulfur economy. Fans raised petitions demanding that SMAP stay together, leading the ring to finally apologise on their television receiver appearance for the distress they felt they were causing .
even if you ’ ve never hear of SMAP, you ’ ve probably seen one or two of the bandmates in some class earlier, as many of their adverts went viral. Remember the GameCube mention with hot Mario ? Yeah, that ’ s Inagaki Goro from SMAP. Or the japanese Banana commercial that has become a commonplace GIF ? That ’ sulfur Shingo Katori, besides from SMAP .
therefore, why didn ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate Sega take advantage of the fact that Kimura is a master singer who is more than capable of recording a few karaoke tracks ? well, it likely comes down to one of two things. possibly it was a budget write out — Sega couldn ’ t foot the charge for the vocal talents of such a huge star, particularly in a by-product championship. however, it ’ second more likely that it comes down to Johnny & Associates and its notoriously rigorous policies .
If you ’ re wondering why you ’ ve never heard of SMAP despite them being the biggest band in Japan, it ’ second because Johnny & Associates ’ acts are measuredly deny external exposure. The means controls the appearances of its stars and owns the rights to all of their music, trade, and images, to the point where, until recently, the party didn ’ t tied leave photos of their endowment on-line — not even on its own web site. Album covers showing the singers could not be posted on the internet, with websites being forced to silhouette out the singers, while Tower Records stores either blurred out the album covers or had to get creative and show the alone part of the products they could — the separate that doesn ’ triiodothyronine feature the band .
Johnny ’ sulfur seems to have applied the same rigid policy to Sega, besides. When Judgment launched, a Famitsu article silhouetted Kimura out of the press images .
For a long fourth dimension, any music performed by groups that were represented by Johnny & Associates could not be streamed at all. Shingo Katori, another SMAP member, cameoed in sequence four of Galileo, even when the series was launched on Crunchyroll for external audiences, that particular episode was notably absent .
The lapp thing happened when Ryosuke Yamada, a member of Hey ! Say ! JUMP, was cast as Edward Elric in the live-action adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist. Thanks to Johnny & Associates ’ nonindulgent rules, two different posters were used to promote the movie. The one used on-line was not allowed to feature Yamada, despite him being the independent character. Posters used in japanese movie theatres were still allowed to show him front and center .
It ’ s not hard to believe that Kimura would be similarly restricted with Judgment. It ’ mho surprising that Johnny & Associates even agreed to let him be a part of the game in the first identify — the consensus seems to be that Kimura likely agreed to the undertaking by himself, with the agency left to nitpick over the details .
This wouldn ’ t be the first clock the SMAP star has taken on a project without the agency ’ randomness approval. Kimura agreed to take on the function of Manji for Takashi Miike ’ s Blade of the Immortal when the director approached him directly after Johnny & Associates had already repeatedly refused the plan .
There doesn ’ thymine seem to be a clear cut cause for the extreme measures that Johnny & Associates takes — stunting the international growth of its stars seems to go against the basic concepts of good clientele — so I can only assume it ’ s down to possessiveness. The agency clearly has a set of control when it comes to media in Japan, although it naturally wouldn ’ t have the same level of control oversea. possibly this is why it doesn ’ triiodothyronine allow its stars to become internationally celebrated, rather preferring to keep them where they are more easily managed .
so where does that leave the possibility of the karaoke minigame appearing in Lost Judgment ? Well, there ’ mho hope, even if it is only a slender prospect. The collapse of Johnny & Associates, Johnny Kitagawa, passed away in 2019 and the agency has been haemorrhaging talent always since. It ’ s widely believed that Kitagawa was creditworthy for the master nature of the party, and signs indicate the agency is becoming increasingly relaxed in regards to its stars. In 2021, the ship’s company made its first official English Twitter explanation. It has besides started to add photos of endowment to its web site, stopped silhouetting people out of images, and allowed more music to be available digitally. additionally, a strange policy that prevented stars from accepting awards — which forced Kimura himself to decline a japanese academy award in 2006 — has been removed .
As of now, Kimura is the alone SMAP member to remain with the agency, and while it might seem like an curious choice, many believe it ’ s thus at least one of the band members has access to SMAP ’ s enormous music catalogue .
Judgment godhead Toshihiro Nagoshi has been silence about karaoke in general, and has not commented on it when specifically asked. It seems to me that if karaoke is n’t planned for Lost Judgment and there is no drama surrounding the matter, Nagoshi would plainly state this and upsell the new dance minigame rather. As it stands, his vagueness could be because the karaoke minigame will feature in the game, likely due to Johnny & Associates relaxing its position on things, and that it will be a surprise for fans .
particular thanks to the group of SMAP fans who helped with japanese source .
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FFXIV Discord lurker and Majima stan. You can find her frequently retweeting/liking Yakuza-related tweets @ megpelliccio .
From Meg Pelliccio