UPDATE: While this news has been reported by Sports Nippon, no sources has been stated. JE has released a statement saying that this possibility is being discussed, but no decision has been made yet. Will SMAP really disband? I guess we’ll have to wait…
UPDATE 2: Johnny’s has finally released an official statement regarding this. Basically, the rumour does have some truth in it, however SMAP and their manager leaving is still being discussed and negotiated. I guess only time will tell…
I’m not a SMAP fan per say, and perhaps that’s why I’m all the more shocked. Checking the rumor mill, it seems like rumors of disbandment has been around for some time. (Edit: Ok, more than just rumors, Nakai himself talked about the possibility of SMAP disbanding in Oct last year.)
As of the 12th Jan 2016, SMAP is no more.
SMAP consists of 5 members:
Only Kimura Takuya will stay with Johnny’s. The rest have terminated their contracts.
So now, the oldest active group in JE is gone. And SMAP was an extremely popular, wildly successful group too. Arashi and SMAP had constantly been compared with each other – in terms of CD sales, popularity… even the number of concert goers. The two groups are neck in neck in being crowned the top dogs of JE, and today, one of the groups no longer exists.
It’s certainly a crisis for JE. And it’s no wonder that they have been pushing groups like Hey! Say! Jump! so hard. Last year, HSJ got to work so much with their senpais, using the popularity of their seniors to promote their group. The biggest stand out would be 24 hour TV, where V6 and HSJ co-hosted the event; it’s the first time the event has been co-hosted by two groups. Then, there was Waku Waku Gakkou, where HSJ members became Arashi’s students. Not forgetting the heavy promotion on Yamada Ryosuke’s movie, Assassination Classroom… And having Ninomiya Kazunari of Arashi voice acting as Korosensei in the movie. And HSJ being on the Sakurai Ariyoshi Abunai Yakai Special, battlefield of Zeus. In comparison, the other juniors that appeared have barely just debut. It does sort of show how desperate JE was, and the idea of whether HSJ could do anything on their own certainly comes to question.
With JE losing a huge milk cow, it’s no wonder that they have been pushing the rest of the groups so hard. Even Arashi, the exceptional number of concerts could be attributed both to an increasing popularity, and the need to fulfill JE’s bottom line.
Back to the original topic… Some information about SMAP. Their name stands for “Sports Music Assemble People”. They made their CD debut in 1991 with the single Can’t Stop!! Loving. The group got off to a slow start, and Johnny had to go around begging TV stations to take the boys in on their shows. The move proved a success though, and the group has gone on to become one of the top idols in Japan.