JJ and Johnny's

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Today is the 23rd, and I don’t have to tell you that the 23rd is the sale date for the most popular women’s fashion monthlies. Oh, CanCam, your 560 pages last month could hardly hold me over for thirty-one painful days!

I went over to the JJ site to check out the contents and noticed something odd about the cover. Just a white box with the logo? I had assumed this was a temporary solution to some sort of design problem, that the proper cover image would be up in no time. But I went over to the bookstore and noticed something extraordinary: Kimura Takuya from SMAP on the cover, sandwiched between two of the normal JJ models. (See the actual cover here.)

So the blank image was no mistake at all! Again we see the draconian and utterly ridiculous Johnny’s Jimusho policy towards images of its stars used on the internet. Yes, JJ can use Kimura Takuya on its cover, available in newsstands across the land, but no, JJ cannot use its own cover image on the internet to promote the issue. Otherwise, people on the internet may be able to figure out what Kimura Takuya looks like. Or they will be so mollified by a tiny 155 x 193 pixel jpg that they’ll cease buying those 3″x5″s of Kimutaku at idol shops in Harajuku. Or Johnny’s is just so controlling that they even don’t let their talents hang mirrors in the company dorm lest light reflect upon a surface and portraits be viewed without proper payment.

At a decade circulation low of 175,634 copies a month, JJ needs some sort of gimmick to get back in the game, and the Faustian bargain of Johnny’s involvement is a surefire way to move paper. Johnny’s in return gets some nice promotion for Kimura’s newest Hero film opening in September. So Kobunsha can use Kimura’s image to boost JJ sales, but not show evidence of this collaboration on the Internet, where evil dwells and the 21st century naturally eradicates anachronistic and feudalistic business practices propping up the current oligopoly. Johnny’s Jimusho has seen the future, and their genius solution is to completely avoid it.

W. David MARX (Marxy)
August 23, 2007

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

27 Responses

  1. Adamu Says:

    Wow I was *just* reading about this. You need to add this to the running tally they have going at Wikipedia:

    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%82%B8%E3%83%A3%E3%83%8B%E3%83%BC%E3%82%BA%E4%BA%8B%E5%8B%99%E6%89%80#.E5.BE.B9.E5.BA.95.E3.81.97.E3.81.9F.E8.91.97.E4.BD.9C.E6.A8.A9.E3.83.BB.E8.82.96.E5.83.8F.E6.A8.A9.E7.AE.A1.E7.90.86

  2. fukumimi Says:

    The really interesting thing about the Wikipedia entry is the history tab.

    The jimusho and/or fanatical fans are pretty active. Around 2000 revisions and counting.

    Similar clean-ups on the English version.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_%26_Associates

    Admittedly, given the jimusho’s immense control over the media, it is difficult to cite sources to most of the deleted claims, which makes it easier for the sanitizing editors to justify their actions.

  3. marxy Says:

    The U.S. wikipedia page is bare bones.

  4. statiq Says:

    English wikipedia should be the sane answer (unfortunately it is not) to all the nonsense that goes on the Japanese version. Fair use images, real names or – god forbid – pictures of human faces: none of it is allowed on ja.wikipedia.

    On the contrary, the j-paranoia seems to be spreading: and things that are perfectly legitimate on English pages get deleted.

  5. sphinx Says:

    Thanks to this blog I have become a big JJ fan, 回覧ing a few copies around the 事務部 and the 技術部 to give everyone a respite from the endless stack of 日経 tech mags. Being fluent on the contents of the latest issue of JJ (Can Can or whatever) may also be the best pickup line in all of Japan.

  6. yuck Says:

    The only thing harder than finding pictures of his tarento on the net are images of Johnny himself. He’s a homely f***, too.

    http://43.253.19.226/geinou/scoop_2003/07/25_01/

  7. anonymous Says:

    One could translate the wikipedia articles from the JP versions to the English ones for lack of information, if they were really inclined to disseminate the truth about the company. You could also check to see if the company edited Wikipedia stuff if you know what IPs they come from.

    http://wikiscanner.virgil.gr/

  8. Adamu Says:

    On the Johnny’s image rights issue:

    I remember reading about another reason to restrict use of tarento images: to punish enemies. The reason Kimutaku was not allowed to compete for a Japanese version of the Oscars was because the book movie he was in was was based on was printed by Bungei Shunju – the company that printed the accusations that Johnny rapes boys.

  9. marxy Says:

    There is no punishing here: Kobunsha worked with Johnny’s on the JJ cover. They are just being super paranoid about a tiny cover image being on the internet.

  10. alin Says:

    This shows my assumption that JJ were dabbling with the avant-guarde to be wrong.

  11. marxy Says:

    Richard Hamilton’s cover is coming next month.

  12. Jrim Says:

    If you go to the JJmode page (http://jj-m.jp/shop/index.cfm), they actually cop to the omission: 都合により表紙画像は割愛させていただきます

    Glad that’s all cleared up, then!

  13. marxy Says:

    As if they were saying, “We just didn’t feel like it this month… I dunno, something came up.”

    I also love the keigo: we humbly receive being allowed to omit the cover.

  14. Jrim Says:

    Glad you could straighten that one out for me. I always go cross-eyed trying to translate stuff like that into English.

  15. Adamu Says:

    I prefer to read it: (ジャニーズ事務所の)都合により

  16. marxy Says:

    Well, yeah. My quote above was the nuance, not a translation. By not saying what the 都合 is, it’s kind of dishonestly vague.

    Also, the keigo is standard, but ironic in this context.

  17. Matt Says:

    Still, JJ must see some weird value in the pure white cover, because otherwise they would have spent the neccessary 10 seconds or so to mock up an alternative cover with just the two girls, right?

    Unless Johnny’s is so powerful that they can prevent you from uploading pictures of their talents… _or anything else_. We probably shouldn’t rule that out.

  18. marxy Says:

    If they had posted the cover with only the two girls, it would have been even more obvious. Right now, it just looks like their graphic designers were off on O-bon holidays, thus the vague 都合により.

  19. Matt Says:

    Ah, I meant a cover with a different photo that only has the two girls in it, not the same photo with the man whited out or something. (I’m assuming that they would have gotten some photos at the shoot of the three people in various paired-up subcombinations and also on their own.)

    Then that minority who even noticed the difference might assume it was an alternate cover or something like that, and there’d be no need to talk about 都合 and 割愛.

  20. marxy Says:

    They really should consult us in the blogosphere before making such editorial decisions.

  21. Matt Says:

    It’s like they don’t even care what we think. Is that even allowed?

  22. hidarinoji Says:

    “They really should consult us in the blogosphere before making such editorial decisions.”

    I just wish they’d consulted us before they coined the term ‘blogosphere’.

    Sorry, tangent.

  23. Mulboyne Says:

    I haven’t read it but the recent Shunkan Bunshun appears to have an article about Johnny’s. Their website has the title

    帝国を揺るがす

    「ポスト・ジャニー喜多川」の暗闘

  24. Suwa Says:

    because of Johnny’s Entertainment’s tsugo, we (are rude to the readers and) apologize for not showing the front page.

    The saseru is apologizing rather than expressing thankfulness to Johnny’s

  25. donkeymon Says:

    This post reminds me of an interesting anecdote. A few years ago, I was hanging out with an old lady friend of mine, along with her 16 year old daughter. She (the daughter) was (and probably still is) a fan of some (probably still) obscure 12-year-old Johnny’s backdancer. She was telling me all about him, and showing me all her little photos of him that she had bought or traded with her friends. She was desperately hoping that he would become more famous, so she could see him more clearly in more concert videos and what not. I had my laptop with me, so I quickly searched on the internet for any pictures or other information about him. But of course there was none. I thought it was simply because he was even more unfamous than she was willing to admit to me. So I told her that we should scan some of his pictures and post them on the internet to make him more famous. She was absolutely horrified. She was seriously just shocked that I would even consider such a thing. It appaled her that I wanted to violate this 12-year-old’s copyright! I don’t know how Johnny manages to instill this unnatural respect for intellectual property rights in kids. Anyway, instead of that, we went down to Harajuku and bought more pictures of him in the Johnny’s store. That place is pretty freaky; I bet you could get a whole post out of it.

  26. jayjayjay Says:

    but when are we gonna get pack to talking bout the crazy right-wingers staying at the New Otani hotel this week (or at least i assume thats why the soundtrucks are out 3-4 pm everyday, and there loads of police busses in 紀尾井町 lately)

  27. esther Says:

    hi, i just recently discovered your blog. thanks for pretty much articulating everything about japan that i’m interested in. it comforts me so much that there are american males that can recognize the difference between Vivi and Can Cam girls…..