On April 10, 2019, this 15-second video teaser with the words PRODUCE 101 JAPAN ended up on my J-Pop recommended videos on YouTube. Around this time, my family and I were going through a very tough time, as we were about to go through our very first tragedy within the immediate family: saying goodbye to my very ill father. I won’t go into detail as to what went through, but two years before when he announced the diagnosis of his illness, 1 he advised me not to think about it and not to think about him deeply and live like normal. Around that time, I was still on J-Pop hiatus. I didn’t return to J-Pop fandom until late 2017-early 2018 with MADKID and the entire underground idol scene where MADKID came from. How I got back and how I discovered MADKID will be in another entry. I did exactly as he advised me and not forget about what was happening within the family, but for the time being, that’s all I’ve done: just live normally like I always do.
Eventually, on that same day (April 10), there were more teasers that just released. I was completely less enthusiastic about it at first and had no interest at all. Just looking forward to MADKID’s first album to be released around that time and my father’s illness completely occupied my mind that I didn’t really care about PDJP at all. I even recalled watching episodes of that disastrous 2 PRODUCE 48, where unexpected trainees suddenly got voted in the final group and only one of my Top Picks made it in the group. It just wasn’t enough for me to actually start appreciating K-POP a bit with just one favored member in there that I completely ignored IZ*ONE when they made their debut two years ago.
Four days later after those PDJP teasers, my father passed away. It was the most devastating event that occurred in my 42 years of my life. I couldn’t think of anything else and, like the rest of the family, was completely distraught. I took a long (?) hiatus from fandom, ignored all my moots except for very few, I just wanted to be alone and completely isolated. I turned off all of my Twitter notifs 3 and have been away from the internet and SNS for almost a month. Around mid-late May, I went back on SNS again, trying to go back to normal life like my dad always advised me then. I even remembered his words back then when he advised me to live life as normal and not think about him or his illness: “That’s life. When it’s time for you go to, it’s time for you to go.”
I was catching up with MADKID’s activities then when press con videos of PDJP started popping up on my YouTube recommends again. I wanted to ignore it and it kept popping up all the time, so I started watching some of these press con videos. From my limited Japanese listening skills, I still was able to grasp how the Japanese version of PD101 would be like and the similarities and differences. A light of hope has been shed when the press con videos noted of CJ ENM’s 4 involvement with the production, and that a joint venture made by CJ ENM and entertainment giant Yoshimoto Kogyo, will be the ones behind the management and production of the final group. I also gathered that the production will be solely by Yoshimoto Kogyo and that only Japanese residents are the only ones who can vote. Not to mention that the trainees must not be signed under any agencies, which tells me that the final group will be a permanent group. Even with all the differences that got me enthusiastic and hope for this series, I still wasn’t interested in it.
June came and this was the turning point, pretty much. I caught a few MADKID members chatting on Twitter with some of their underground idol homies about a “major audition” that some of them are planning to enter. Some underground idol groups aren’t signed by any agencies and are self-produced, so some of them are able to audition. Those groups involved in those chats were WhiteA 5, BLACK IRIS 6, a few FlowBack members 7, and a few others I can’t remember. MADKID, on the other hand, are ineligible because they’re already a debuted mainstream group and obviously signed under a small agency. There were even some few Axcels 8 and non-Axcel i-fans (mainly K-Pop fans) flooding SHIN’s and YUKI’s Instagram comments convincing them to enter PDJP, but obviously they’re not eligible. I also caught from their small Twitter chats that they’ll be going together as one group, just solidifying the “alliances,” so to speak, and cheer one another that they may enter. There was a hashtag going around the Japanese WhiteA fans with #WhiteA頑張って at that time too.
Around near June and beginning of July, YUKI (MADKID) RT’d a few tweets from some WhiteA members calling out their fanbase and all the other underground fanbases to support their friends who made it in the audition. They even dropped the names of who made it. Because we’re just way too deep in the underground that they didn’t get any attention from the general public and even from the i-fans side, so it was more of like our own little underground fanbase who became aware of the names.
The names dropped were: Honda Kosuke, Kawashiri Ren, Sano Fumiya, Shiroiwa Ruki, Mitsui Ryo, Uehara Jun, Urano Shuta, and Suzuki Miyabi. I was quite surprised that out of the undergrounder crew that eight of them made it in the audition and prayed that with them in the show (and hoping most of them would make it in the final group) would bring some of that “underground idol influence” out in mainstream J-Pop. I waited patiently until September for PDJP to begin and it wasn’t that hard for me with the waiting. Around late June, it was announced that MADKID would be performing overseas for the first time here in my hometown (Crunchyroll Expo) because their two singles, RISE and FAITH became hits as anime op’s for the series Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield hero).
After MADKID flew back to Japan after their epic live here in the States, they kind of disappeared from SNS and started to get less active. This meant that they’ll be back to busy mode again, working on the next great release for next year. Around that time, PDJP premiered, and while waiting for MADKID to return next year, PDJP got me occupied. The rest was history.
I’m blogging this entry before I go to bed, as we finally say goodbye to the PDJP series that has been long residing in the GYAO! app since late of last year. We’re finally moving on from that period. We’re now at the JO1/Boom Trigger/ORBIT/OWV/BXW/ENJIN/soloists period now. We’re at the new decade of 2020. We’re finally kicking off a brand new era of J-Pop under the brand-new Reiwa Era. These boys, and a few slowly making their debut, will be the ones to lead Reiwa Era J-Pop.
I want to write more, but I’ll end the entry here. Till next time.
- Lung cancer… eventually it became metastatic
- in my opinion…
- except MADKID’s notifs…
- creator of the PRODUCE 101 series. Unfortunately, because of the voting scandals, the original Korean versions of the series have ceased from existence.
- OWV Honda Kosuke’s former group
- One of them was a former Johnny’s Jr. on the same batch as JO1 Ruki and OWV Shuta, another member was a former YsR member, so obviously he’s one of Ruki’s friends
- FlowBack isn’t exactly underground, but they hang out with these boys…
- Axcels = MADKID fans