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The Talent Industry 101


The hard-hitting journalists at Japan Today wrote up this expository introduction [link now broken] to the world of Japanese talent. Some choice quotes:

Companies like Oscar, Johnny’s Jimusho, Sun Music and Yellow Cab have tremendous power when it comes to their talents, so much so that very few newspapers, magazines or TV stations dare carry negative stories.


“The production companies basically dictate to the networks who to use,” says [anachronistic “crazy foreign guy” Dave] Spector. “The TV stations allow this because they also are given use of top talents in exchange for the B or C list.”

W. David MARX (Marxy)
March 31, 2005

Marxy wrote a lot of essays back on his old site Néomarxisme. This is one of them.

4 Responses

  1. justin lincoln Says:

    maybe a bit off-topic….but I was wondering if you can fill me in on a recent J-celebrity scandal. There is a talkshow host by the name of Shinsuke who was briefly suspended from TV for hitting a female co-worker and sending her to the hospital. Several of my Japanese English students seem to sympathize with this guy …because the woman apparently said something bad about their company or boss.
    What could she possibly have said to deserve a trip to the hospital….and why wasn’t he blackballed?
    Do you have any scoop on that incident?

  2. marxy Says:


    I don’t have any more information about this event, although I read about it in Japan Today. I would suppose that he’s 1) male and 2) pretty big, so he can’t be blacklisted, just censured.

  3. mark mcbennett Says:

    Shimada Shinsuke is indeed one of the big-knobs in the geinokai (J. showbiz industry). He was a regular emcee on 8 different shows at the time of the scandal, does quite a few TV commercials, and has a big fan base. Being a Kansai native, “allowances are made” for his outspoken, forthright style. Being a middle-aged Japanese male and veteran Yoshimoto employee, “allowances were made” for his dressing down (physical assault) of a fellow staffer. She in turn is a “kikoku shijo” who spent time living in the US. So she was seen by many as only getting what she deserved for her uppity attitude and lack of “respect” for her sempai. And Shinsuke duly gave a tearful televised apology and made it clear that he would quit showbusiness in a heartbeat if that would make things okay with her. She said “Okay, quit.” But now he’s back hosting his shows like nothing ever happened. A good case study of Japanese cultural themes, including Ssempai-kohai relationships, public apologies masking lack of repentance, sexual discrimination, wariness of “outsiders” etc. You can read more on the story in news archives.

  4. nate Says:

    speaking of insincere apologies… my JLPT study book uses two completely separate example senses, with the main thrust, “the corrupt executives apologized, but they didn’t seem sincere”. There is a lot of truth in example sentences.