YOU never escape the Johnny fandom. Well this has been my experience, even if my love for this company has been sidelined for a couple of years, I never forget to support my favourite artists, whether it be in music or acting. Kinki Kids, Kanjani8, A.B.C.-Z.
Nonetheless its fair to say that I have fallen in love with the most recent group to debut – Johnny’s WEST. Is it the K-A-N-S-A-I-ness? maybe, probably, most likely. Because just like Kanjani8, this seven member group hasn’t failed to make me laugh or sing all their songs. Plus a few of them belong to the acting class of Johnny’s. And that’s always a bonus.
Also Non-chan you are freakin’ gorgeous. De ja vu to the earlier days of Eito and my Okura obsession.
“We’re not 4, we’re 7”.
All of the members were working as part of Kansai Johnny’s Jr. in different groups. Nakama Junta and Kiriyama Akito were a duo named B.A.D. and had the role of leaders of the Kansai Jrs. Shigeoka Daiki, Kotaki Nozomu, Fujii Ryusei and Kamiyama Tomohiro were the members of 7 WEST. Hamada Takahiro worked solo after his duo, BOYS, disbanded. (He also word closely with the Kansai unit Vetran as Hamada % & Vetran)
During the Johnny’s Countdown at New Year 2014, an announcement was made, that a new Johnny’s group would make their debut. During that time it was announced, that the group’s name would be Johnnys’ WEST 4 with Nakama Junta, Kiriyama Akito, Shigeoka Daiki and Kotaki Nozomu as the members. However since Japanese people believe ‘4’ is a bad number, the members took the opportunity to negotiate with Johnny Kitagawa, the president of the agency, to add 3 more members to the group – Kamiyama Tomohiro, Hamada Takahiro and Fujii Ryusei.
Soon afterwards the seven members were called to rehearsal for the stageplay “Naniwa Zamurai” in which the second act a new announcement was made, stating that Johnny’s’ WEST will make their debut as a 7 member group. The name a combination of “Johnny’s” referring to the agency and “WEST” because all the members are from Kansai, the west region of Japan. They are the first group from Kansai Johnny’s Jr that has debuted in ten years, the last being Kanjani8 in 2004.
The group debuted with the single “Ee janai ka” April 23, 2014. Their debut single topping the Oricon single chart for that week. Like Kanjani8 the group embraces and celebrates Kansai-and-Osaka-ness having a very similar upbeat tempo like many Eito songs and mainly singing in the Kansai dialect.
Other single the group released in the 2014 include:
“Jinsei was Banzai! Yume mansai” | Life is Banzai! Dreams mansai! “Ookini Daisakusen” | Thank you “Yume wo Dakishimete” | Embrace your Dreams The groups first photobook also goes on sale in December (2014) as does the unit first solo stage play Naniwa Zamurai Hello Tokyo, which is about al unit named Naniwa Zamurai and the road to thier debut as a seven-member unit. Although the story is fictional, the plot is based on similar experiences and all songs were chosen by the members (and most of the lines).
Nakama Junta (中間淳太) born 21/10 1987 in Hyogo
Nicknamed Junjun. Junjun is the oldest member at 26 with his image colour YELLOW. Pre his debut Junjun, with his partner Kiriyama Akito was in the Kansai jr. sub-unit B.A.D (Beautiful American Dream) and were known as the leaders of Kansai Jrs. as they were the longest running Kansai unit since Kanjani8. Though the members from Kinki Kids are also from Kansai area, they weren’t called as Kansai Jr. in their Junior days. As well as B.A.D he also participated in the unit BADBOYS before he joined Johnny’s WEST. As a member of B.A.D Junjun appeared in several senpai concerts as well as acted in Dream Boys (2005), and Shonentachi (2010), and even acted in the drama Gokusen 3 (2008).
Quarter Taiwanese and having lived in Taiwan for six years, Junjun can speak Chinese. He is also a graduate of Kansai University College from the faculty of Social Science. Junta is the most well spoken member of the group, and along with his duo partner Akito takes charge of speaking among the group, he is also a presenter on Kansai radio with his most admired senpai’s being Matsumoto-kun and Sakurai-kun (Arashi).
Hamada Takahiro (濱田崇裕) born 19/12 1988 in Hyogo
Nicknamed Hama. Hama is the second oldest member of the group with the image colour PURPLE. Having been the Kansai Jr. since 2002 Hama was a member of the Kansai sub-unit BOYS, until its dissolution in March 2011. He had appeared as a member in several senpai concerts and stage plays. He can also play guitar. And in 2014 starred in the drama Shark (NTV / 2014) and SHARK~2nd Season~ (NTV/ 2014) as a musician, showcasing his talent. He is also good at acrobatics and dancing.
In his Kansai junior days, Hamada performed both as a duo in BOYS (which later disbanded) and as a solo artist alongside Kansai jrs. VETRAN. He is also a trained dancer and most known for his sloping shoulders, which rival Sakurai-kuns.
Kiriyama Akito (桐山照史) born 31/8 1989 in Osaka
Akito is the third oldest and is mainly in charge of talking, as well as being one of the main vocals. His image colour is ORANGE. Akito was previously one-half of the Kansai sub-unit B.A.D with Junta, and is a well loved senpai among the Kansai Jrs. Akito belongs to the acting class of Johnny’s WEST and is credited with having the most titles to his resume including a number of musicals and stageplays. . He had his debut with Gokusen 3 (NTV / 2008) but since has gone on to act in Nagareboshi (Fuji TV/ 2010), Dirty Mama! (NTV / 2012), Shinikare (NOTTV/ 2012) and Mayonaka no Panya-san (NHK / 2013).
Shigeoka Daiki (重岡大毅) born 26/8 1992 in Osaka
Nicknamed Shige-chan or Shigepi. Shige is the main vocalist in the group with the image colour RED. His height 173cm. Blood Type: A. Previously a member of 7 WEST. As a Kansai Jr. Daiki is among one of the favourites, with many musical, stageplay, and acting credits to his name in both major and minor roles. He has acted in Shounentachi~The Jail in the sky~ as both an inmate and the chairman role, as well as starring with Tackey in Takizawa Kabuki~2012 as part of the main cast in various roles including as Jidan in the final story. Daiki also has a number of movie titles to his name, many of which he starred with other Kansai Jrs. Gaining popularity he acted in Bad Boys J The Movie (2013) then in 2014 won the lead role of Irie Saku in SHARK~2nd Season~ (NTV/ 2014). This season (Fall 2014) he co-stars with Kanjani8 senpai Nishikido Ryo in the high school drama Gomen no Seishun – his first prime-time drama spot.
Kamiyama Tomohiro (神山智洋) born 1/7 1993 in Hyogo
Nicknamed Kami-chan. Image colour GREEN. Blood Type: A. Actor and ex-member of TOP KIDS and Hey! Say! 7 WEST (later 7 WEST). Debuted along with the other six members April 2014. Kami has acted in Shark (NTV / 2014) as well as Again!! (TBS-MBS / 2014). His hobby and special skill guitar and composing. He is known as being the most fashionable among the members in his own style (although not quiet up to Yasu’s style) and the most acrobatic of the members, often performing gymnastics or breakdancing moves on stage.
The middle child of five children, Kami-chan claims his trigger for wanting to join Johnnys is because of V6-san. As a kid he watched “Ultra Man Tiga,” and thought Nagano (Hiroshi)-kun was cool. Soon afterwards to learnt to dance. Not only a dancer, Kami-chan can also play guitar, cook, and loves fashion (but he isn’t Yasu (Kanjani8) I swear – Although Yasu does give him second hand clothes).
Fujii Ryusei (藤井流星) born 18/8 1993 in Osaka
Ryu is the second youngest among the members. He has two younger sisters, who are both Idols and members of E-Girls. Ryu’s image colour BLUE. Blood Type: B. Ryu claims his hobby and special skill is sleeping, something he has in common with his admired senpai Okura Tadayoshi (Kanjani8). He is known to be an air-head and KY person. He joined Johnny’s in 2008 and along with Nakayama Yuma and Kamiyama Tomohiro formed the group TOP KIDS, which feed into Hey! Say! 7 WEST (which later became 7 WEST after Yuma left the group due to his debut with Yuma and B.I Shadow). In 2012 he acted in Miss Pilot (Fuji TV / 2013), then in 2014 Shark (NTV / 2014) as well as acting lead in Again!! (TBS-MBS / 2014). He also had previously written lyrics for 7 WEST, and can rap. Along with Non-chan he is often nicknamed “Tower Twins” because of thier height.
Kotaki Nozumu (小瀧望) born 30/7 1996 in Osaka
Non-chan is the youngest member of the group, nonetheless the tallest at 183cm. His image colour PINK. His Blood Type: O. He was previously a member of Hey! Say! 7 WEST (then 7 WEST) before the group was amalgamated with the remaining four members into Johnny’s WEST. His most admired senpai being Yamada Ryosuke (saying if Yamada didn’t exist he probably wouldn’t be a Johnny), and lists listening to music, watching movies and shopping as his hobbies. He is nonetheless good at soccer and baseball. Non-chan is the only member of Johnny’s WEST not to have acted outside a Johnny drama, however did act in Kamen Teacher The Movie (2014) and does act in the upcoming movie Close Range Love | Kinkyori Renai (2014) with Yamapi.
Known also as the Romance Master.