Live Report Exclusive

Johnny’s Festival ‾ Thank you 2021 Hello 2022

16/01/2022 2022-01-16 01:00:00 JaME Author: Christine

Johnny’s Festival ‾ Thank you 2021 Hello 2022

An end-of-year extravaganza providing both a look at what the future holds for Johnny's and a loving 25th anniversary tribute to KinKi Kids.


© Johnny & Associates. All rights reserved.
On December 30th, Johnny’s held a year-end extravaganza at Tokyo Dome titled Johnny’s Festival ‾ Thank you 2021 Hello 2022, and the show was made available for viewing worldwide on-demand from January 2nd to 4th. While the event was not broadcast live, this allowed for the show to be neatly edited and for English subtitles to be provided for the spoken intermission portions. This article covers the event as shown via the on-demand video.

In recent years, Johnny’s has been undergoing something of a changing of the guard, with groups who brought the agency some of its greatest successes in the 90s and early 00s either pausing activities, restructuring after losing key members or parting ways. In particular, 2021 brought the disbandment of V6, after 26 years together. V6’s absence from Johnny's Festival left the duo KinKi Kids, who debuted in 1997, as the oldest act performing. Which leads to the inevitable question: who will be stepping up to lead Johnny’s into the future? As Johnny's Festival placed established stars next to hungry newcomers, it was a good opportunity for overseas fans to get acquainted with the agency's new generation and to see how they measure up onstage next to the groups that came before them. It was also a particularly good introduction to each group's allure for new listeners as the set list for the show was selected by fans via a Johnny's Family Club vote.

The first 20 minutes of the show's 2+ hour runtime seemed to be dedicated to introducing the groups, showing each performing one song, with the members' names each briefly displayed on the screen in kanji.

Introductions

Kicking everything off was an act that Johnny's seems to have a lot of confidence in at the moment, Snow Man. Dressed in sparkling costumes that had an iridescent look, they performed their debut song D.D., which highlighted one of their biggest strengths, their energetic dancing. They were followed by another of Johnny's biggest up-and-coming stars, SixTONES, who came dressed in dark-coloured costumes featuring fur and feathers, giving them a wilder look. Their performance of NAVIGATOR focused more around their aggressive vocals and facial expressions, highlighting the contrast between the two groups that debuted together in 2020.

The atmosphere changed abruptly with the appearance of King & Prince, who brought a reserved elegance to the stage, decked out in regal-looking white costumes adorned with elaborate gold embroidery and tassels as they performed the gentle, optimistic Koi Furu Tsukiyo ni Kimi Omou. In contrast, Johnny’s WEST brought a wild, raw energy to the stage with Big Shot!!, firing the crowd up. Their costumes looked like an odd collection of scraps from the previous groups sewn together with tinsel garlands leftover from Christmas, but that didn’t seem to lessen their infectious enthusiasm.

A.B.C-Z were up next, shown riding through the crowd on a moving platform as they cheerfully sang Za ABC ~5stars~ together in plaid blazers. The four members of Sexy Zone also first appeared riding through the crowd, decked out in shimmering sequins and grey faux fur as they performed Sexy Zone. At the end, Kento Nakajima humorously gave the audience a “Sexy thank you!”

Next up were Kis-My-Ft2, who sang SHE!HER!HER!, gliding around the stage gracefully on their trademark rollerskates. Hey! Say! JUMP came out next, with the stage featuring a dramatic theatre-like backdrop for Fanfare.

KAT-TUN arrived next, performing the aggressive rock track Keep the faith, accompanied by pyrotechnics. Kanjani8’s appearance lightened the mood with a comedic vibe. Despite losing two of their main vocalists in recent years, they didn’t seem to be lacking any energy at all during Musekinin Hero. Last came a group that has survived losing even more members over the years, NEWS. Wearing fringed and sequined red jackets, NEWS performed weeeek, and they were gradually joined by the members of the groups who had come before them, until all of the performers except for KinKi Kids were on the stage.

The first MC began then, with Takahisa Masuda from NEWS welcoming the audience and Kazuya Kamenashi of KAT-TUN explaining that there would be many inter-group collaborations coming up. Tadayoshi Okura from Kanjani8 then introduced the first act, asking the audience to check out the newest addition to the Johnny’s family, Naniwa Danshi, who just debuted in November 2021.

Naniwa Danshi

A video introducing each member of the group in both Japanese and English was played before they appeared on the stage, decked out in bright magenta costumes. Giving off an air of youthful innocence, Naniwa Danshi’s performance of their debut song UBU LOVE seemed designed to highlight Johnny & Associates’ recent focus on online expansion. Effects overlaid on the video made it almost look almost like a social media post at times.


A.B.C-Z x Kis-My-Ft2

Next up were A.B.C-Z, whose performance of the sprinting track Ganbare Tomo yo! featured some striking moments, including a backflip from the edge of a platform onto the main stage by the athletic Ryoichi Tsukada, who has challenged the "SASUKE" (a TV show similar to "American Ninja Warrior") obstacle course multiple times, as well as a break in the middle where he performed another off the members' hands like part of a cheer squad. It was a performance that lived up to the meaning of the "A.B.C" in their name, “Acrobat Boys Club”.


Next came the drama of Kis-My-Ft2’s ballad Luv Bias. Surrounded by green lasers, they appeared in tan suits covered with large flowers. It didn’t seem like the most seasonal choice, but it was a refreshing change visually from all the heavy-looking faux fur and sequins that other groups had been wearing up to that point. At the end of the performance, the camera panned out to show a swirl of balloons drifting beautifully through the air like snow.


Kis-My-Ft2 were the first group to perform more than one song in a row, and they also had the first collaboration of the broadcast, facing off against A.B.C-Z for the upbeat pop-rock song Kiss Damashii. The two groups started on separate stages, slowly walking over to face off in the middle and dance together. They finished with the A.B.C-Z track Black Sugar, which was the first song of the night to go in a more sensual direction, with copious amounts of slow hip thrusting and close-ups of the members’ hands running across their bodies.

SixTONES x KAT-TUN

Heading in a different direction, SixTONESMascara was slow and vaguely funky, with lots of air guitar choreography and a vaguely rock n roll feel to the vocals. Taiga Kyomoto's singing almost sounded a bit reminiscent of visual kei at times, which was somewhat fitting, as the next song was Imitation rain, which was composed by one of the most famous visual kei musicians of all time, X JAPAN’s YOSHIKI.


The performance started with the lights out, so when the title was uttered it was a surprise to see not just SixTONESJesse, but also KAT-TUN’s Kazuya Kamenashi standing back-to-back with him. With SixTONES being something of a spiritual successor to KAT-TUN, in terms of their darker, more rock-influenced sound, it was a combination that made perfect sense. Smoke drifted across the stage during the dramatic spoken portion of the song.


KAT-TUN’s following performance of Roar brought both elegance and edginess to the stage, as did their dark red costumes and elaborately embroidered jackets. They transitioned to an old fan favourite next, Harukana Yakusoku, which saw the members of SixTONES return to the stage in their white costumes, exuberantly singing and rapping along to the upbeat track.

Hey! Say! JUMP x Sexy Zone x NEWS

Continuing the edgy vibe, Hey! Say! JUMP were up next, performing Okami Seinen, a dark and alluring song composed for the group by Ziyoou-vachi’s Avu-chan, under dramatic red lighting. It climaxed with Ryosuke Yamada looking seductively into the camera before leading the members in a high-pitched group howl. In a stark contrast, Sexy Zone appeared on a brightly lit stage with clouds, skyscrapers and sunset-bathed scenery on the screens behind them, singing the refreshing track RUN.


NEWS appeared next, singing the dramatic ballad Mirai-e. Masuda brought one of the most striking vocal performances of the night, singing with a stirring amount of passion at centre stage. Partway through, the faces of fans singing along to the track were projected on the screen behind the three members.


BURN saw the members of Hey! Say! JUMP return, riding around the crowd on individual platforms that featured clear screens, presumably for the audience’s protection. The members of Sexy Zone joined NEWS on stage next for Natsu no Hydrangea, which began with a fan service moment where Nakajima and Masuda sang opposite one another, with Nakajima leaning in as if preparing for a kiss, before the two men turned and looked into the camera. Blurry hydrangeas on the screens behind them and purple, blue and green lights waved by the fans in the crowd added an air of elegance to the ballad.

WHITE LOVE saw the members of Hey! Say! JUMP gathered in a unique formation where their arms created a heart. The camera switched between them and the members of NEWS and Sexy Zone, who were still on an elevated platform together. The winter-themed song was a fitting track for the New Year’s show, and the sight of the stages slowly sliding around the Tokyo Dome, coming together into one big platform and then sliding apart again, carrying the singing and dancing idols over the heads of their fans, showed the impressive scale of the event.

King & Prince x Snow Man

The lights went out and a bell began tolling next, and the screen showed a video slowly moving through a dark hallway to a door. It opened, and King & Prince arrived, performing Cinderella Girl in front of screens that created the illusion of a grand palace. Wearing costumes that looked like black pinstripe suits heavily embellished with sequins, lace, gold chains and other metal accessories, they were joined by the members of Snow Man.

King & Prince’s performance of Magic Touch, which saw them shed their heavy-looking jackets to reveal sleek white button-up shirts and suspenders, brought a dramatic shift from the innocent fairytale atmosphere to a sensual, club-inspired vibe. The song’s all-English lyrics and stylish choreography made it stand out even more.


Snow Man returned to the stage next, briefly demonstrating their dance skills before launching into a performance of Kimi no Kareshi ni Naritai with King & Prince. The synergy between the two groups was clear from the start.

Grandeur, the best-selling single of the year according to Oricon’s charts, was up next. The upbeat track highlighted Snow Man’s athletic dancing, bringing an explosive energy to the stage. While the members’ singing wasn’t the strongest, their performance felt like a headlining one, with energetic rapping and wild flailing from the pink-haired Daisuke Sakuma and an impressive backflip from Hikaru Iwamoto being some of the highlights.


Johnny’s WEST x Naniwa Danshi x Kanjani8

Diamond Smile paired Kansai groups Johnny’s WEST, Naniwa Danshi and Kanjani8 together for a sweet performance with a hint of chaotic energy underlying it. During Ee Jyanaika, that energy bubbled to the surface in the chant-along chorus and the goofy exclamations from Johnny’s WEST, all of which seemed to get the crowd more fired up than any other act.


One of the highlights of the show, Maemuki Scream! brought the lively energy that Kanjani8 are well known for, with Japanesque images of waves and mountains in the background and plenty of enthusiastic chanting. Kanjani8’s Shingo Murakami led the members of all three groups like a pied piper as they jogged and hopped around the stage. Next, Daiki Shigeoka of Johnny's WEST stated that they would have a special performance for everyone, with Kanjani8 serving as the band while Johnny’s WEST sang and Naniwa Danshi danced in the background for Shoko. The members were all full of energy, performing in front of rainbow-coloured lights. Kanjani8 then performed the rock track NOROSHI in their band formation, with Tadayoshi Ohkura introducing the song and singing enthusiastically from his position behind the drums and You Yokoyama stoically manning the trumpet. Despite the departure of their two main vocalists in recent years, Kanjani8 still put on a powerful show brimming with personality.


KinKi Kids

Next, violinists appeared on the stage and a video package looking back on the career of KinKi Kids started to play. Starting with their debut in 1997, it recapped their many hits and shared photos from throughout their 25-year journey together. The performance kicked off with their debut single Glass no Shounen, with the members positioned on two elevator-like platforms across the stage from each other, high up in the air. The stage was split into blue and red halves, with Tsuyoshi on the blue side and Koichi on the red side.


Both were dressed in sparkling suits featuring floral patterns, in their respective colours. However, Tsuyoshi’s outfit featured some quirky accessories, including large black over-ear headphones, bright pink and white running shoes and a white glove with two fingers missing, while Koichi’s attire was more sleek and classic, showing their contrasting personalities.

During their performance of the elegant Swan Song, they were joined by Johnny’s Jr. group Travis Japan, who danced along with them. They acknowledged them briefly before they left the stage and the backdrop became brightly shining stars for the introduction of KinKi Kids' hit Ai no Katamari.


Members of the other groups appeared on the stage partway through the song, singing along. Flower brightened the mood, with Tsuyoshi and Koichi walking around the stage separately to spend a moment with each group as they all sang the cheerful track together. In a short MC, Koichi stated that he wanted to continue the tradition of passing music down from sempai to kouhai, leading into SHAKE, another upbeat and optimistic track.

During Lyric, the camera panned out to show the concert’s title being flashed across the audience via the lights the fans were holding. At the end, they called Travis Japan back out to dance for a medley of songs paying tribute to groups who were not appearing at the event due to recent disbandments or hiatuses, including Tackey & Tsubasa’s Yume Monogatari, ARASHI's Happiness and V6’s Ai Nanda, the latter of which saw Daiki Shigeoka from Johnny’s WEST wondering aloud whether V6 were watching at home, before declaring everyone's love for them and saying that their kohai were doing their best to fill their shoes.

Representatives of various groups then took the time to share a message with the fans, leading into the final song, smile, a charity single composed by Mr.Children frontman Kazutoshi Sakurai and produced by Hideaki Takizawa of Tackey & Tsubasa that was released by the Johnny’s supergroup Twenty★Twenty last year.

Koichi handled the final MC, before having all of the groups come to the front individually to introduce themselves again and take a bow. He then took a moment to thank everyone who made the festival possible despite all the difficulties caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, as well as Jun Matsumoto from ARASHI, who produced the event. He asked everyone to stay healthy before everyone gave a group bow and walked up the stairs, waving as the curtains closed and the audience applauded.

Set list

Introductions
01. overture
02. D.D. (Snow Man)
03. NAVIGATOR (SixTONES)
04. Koi Furu Tsukiyo ni Kimi Omou (King & Prince)
05. Big Shot!! (Johnny's WEST)
06. Za ABC ~5stars~ (A.B.C-Z)
07. Sexy Zone (Sexy Zone)
08. SHE!HER!HER! (Kis-My-Ft2)
09. Fanfare (Hey! Say! JUMP)
10. Keep the faith (KAT-TUN)
11. Musekinin Hero (Kanjani8)
12. weeeek (NEWS)

Naniwa Danshi
13. UBU LOVE

A.B.C-Z x Kis-My-Ft2
14. Ganbare Tomo yo!
15. Luv Bias
16. Kiss Damashii
17. Black Sugar

SixTONES x KAT-TUN
18. Mascara
19. Imitation rain
20. Roar
21. Harukana Yakusoku

Hey! Say! JUMP x Sexy Zone x NEWS
22. Okami Seinen
23. RUN
24. Mirai-e
25. BURN
26. Natsu no Hydrangea
27. WHITE LOVE

King & Prince x Snow Man
28. Cinderella Girl
29. Magic Touch
30. Kimi no Kareshi ni Naritai
31. Grandeur

Johnny’s WEST x Naniwa Danshi x Kanjani8
32. Diamond Smile
33. Ee Jyanaika
34. Maemuki Scream!
35. Shoko
36. NOROSHI

KinKi Kids
37. Glass no Shonen
38. Swan Song
39. Ai no Katamari
40. Flower
41. SHAKE
42. Lyric

All Groups
43. Yume Monogatari
44. Happiness
45. Ai Nanda
46. smile
 Johnny's Festival - Official Website
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30/12/20212021-12-30
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A.B.C-Z, Hey! Say! JUMP, Johnny's WEST, KANJANI∞, KAT-TUN, King & Prince, KinKi Kids, Kis-My-Ft2 , Naniwa Danshi, NEWS, Sexy Zone, SixTONES, Snow Man
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