It's been a day since Arashi announced their indefinite hiatus that will officially begin from 2021 onwards.

In the past 24 hours, I've talked to various friends - both fans and close friends who aren't fans alike. I was hoping that by talking about it to them and hearing their words of comfort, I would feel better and eventually get myself out of this funk. But somehow, the more I talk to people, the more I realize I don't want to talk. Strange.

I tried to verbalize my emotions in a more unidirectional manner, in 280 characters on Twitter. But how could 280 characters or even a thread ever be enough for me to express how I feel about this life-changing piece of news? The multitude of thoughts I tried to express in tweets are so fragmented - a limitation of the social media itself, I guess, at least for my purposes - and did nothing to give myself a better picture of what I was feeling as a whole.

I think what I need now, more than anything, is to try and piece together the jagged edges of brokenness that I'm feeling right now into a long piece of prose, and hopefully obtain some kind of catharsis in the process. Hence, I return to this little fangirling space of mine - not to write any birthday wishes for the members, like I used to so long ago, but to try and unpack the layers of emotions that I feel are pent up within me, and to make sense of my own head space.

Shock and numbness. When the news broke, I was in the midst of watching a movie and was fully engrossed in it. I casually reached over for my phone absentmindedly, as I always do, only to see a few messages from concerned friends.

Above all these notifications sat an email from JFC informing members of an important announcement on the site.
Frantically, I rushed to my laptop and pulled the video up with my fingers trembling on the keyboard.

It was the hardest video I have ever had to watch. The solemnity of it all; Ohno's sombre expression, Nino's absence of banter, Jun's effort to hold back the tears in his eyes, Aiba's constant stumble over his words, and Sho's cool and collected composure. Every second of that video made me want to scream, and my tears broke free without restraint when Jun handed the baton to Aiba to speak.

"How is it that this is happening?" I asked myself. "What happened? What about their promise to stay together forever?" The video didn't give me the answers I needed, and in that instant, I felt confused, upset and lost. "How could they do this without any warning?"

When I finally got through the video with much difficulty, I went on Twitter. I was hoping for further clarifications that I might have missed; vital information that could assure me that this wasn't real. Instead, my whole timeline was buzzing with the news and everyone was just a mess, obviously as confused as I was. I blanked out. I really did. It felt like my whole world came crashing down and there was nothing I could do to stop it. I sat in stunned silence in front of my screen for another hour, numb. I willed myself to believe that this was a nightmare. "None of this is true. It can't be. This is a prank, somehow," I told myself repeatedly.

I held onto Nino's words tightly as though it were a lifebuoy; the only thing that could keep me afloat.

「嵐は5人で嵐です。」Arashi is as Five.
「僕らはいつまでも嵐です。」We will always be Arashi.

I could barely eat my dinner that night, anxious to be able to get some answers from the announced press conference. I was simply going through the motions of habit while my heart felt like it was on fire. I felt like crying but my tears seemed to be stuck at the back of my throat and none would come out.

Worry. Since the press conference wasn't aired live, I started reading the reports. I felt slightly comforted knowing that Jun had jumped straight in when asked, "So this is not a disbandment?" and replied sharply with "No, this is not a disbandment." I read about Nino defending Ohno's seemingly selfish decision to lead a life away from the limelight, saying, "With 6 people, or with 4 people, it wouldn't be Arashi. We wouldn't be able to give our 100% in performances. Arashi, after all, is made up of 5." "It's our fault if Leader is made to bear the brunt of any of it." If anything, this press conference merely reasserted the bonds that exist within Arashi; just look at how they still protect each other and Arashi as an ideal.

Simply looking at these photos taken during the press conference once again proves how much Arashi loves Arashi.

Seeing their smiles and laughter; the way they look at each other as though they're ready to jump in front of a bullet for each other was a sharp reminder for me: Yes, I was in pain. But how much more pain must they have been in, to have been talking about either disbandment or a hiatus, or discussing where to go from here for the past one and a half years? It wasn't just the pain of discussing The End, there's also the pain of putting on a strong front in front of the people they know, the fans and the staff they work closely with. How could any one individual take so much pressure and stress, much less share in the same intensity of things that 4 other people also experience?

I take my hats off to them. If I had already felt such heartache in 3 hours, I can't even begin to fathom what one and a half years of feeling like this must have been to them. Unfortunately, recognizing this didn't fill that hole in my heart. Yes, the clips of the press conference reaffirmed the fact that Arashi was still Arashi at their core, but I still didn't feel like I could ever smile again, as though all the light in the world had gone out. There was an Arashi-shaped hole in my heart.

Anger and resentment. My emotions turned ugly. Thinking about how this discussion had been going on since June 2017 during WWG, and on Nino's birthday, started to frustrate me. All this time they didn't let anything slip; we were all made to believe that everything was normal. Ohno mentioned in Hawaii, on multiple occasions, that he'd long given up the idea of leaving Arashi, of giving up his life right now in exchange for one on the seas (metaphorically speaking, but also possibly literally). But in the press conference, he said that he thought about it again after they left Hawaii and returned to Japan. What am I supposed to believe anymore?

While this resentment stirred within me, I told myself to stay rational. Was it really so hard to understand why Ohno probably developed that desire to escape again after their trip to Hawaii in 2014? No, because 2015 was an unreasonably tough one for Oh-chan. Was it tiring to shoulder so many expectations, commitments and responsibilities, especially for someone like Ohno who doesn't like being restricted? Definitely. Was it the right thing to do for Arashi to have kept their doubts to themselves, to try and sort it out among themselves first and try to come up with a solution first before facing their fans and the press? Of course it was; a misstep on their part could incite unnecessary panic (yes, they're basically on another level altogether).

I understand why they did what they did and how they, especially Ohno, must have felt. Why is it then, that I still find it hard to reconcile my emotions with logic? I'm broken.

Guilt. I started hating my own emotions; since I understood their reasons and all I wanted was for them to be happy, why the hell was I still feeling so upset? I couldn't understand myself. I started thinking, "I'm a bad fan. I don't even deserve to be called a fan. What kind of rotten and selfish person am I?!" Believe me, I beat myself up for it continuously. My emotions were so raw, I felt like all I had to do was just sit and I'd melt into nothingness. When I woke up this morning, all I could feel was a dull ache in my heart.

Post-note: I started on this entry last night before I'd watched Zero, when I still felt so broken. I didn't manage to complete it because I'd decided to watch Zero at the very last minute. Little did I expect a shift in my emotions after hearing Sho's heartfelt replies to Udou-san's questions, of which I'll further document in this entry.

I think I can finally see a tiny flicker of light at the end of what seems to be a long and winding tunnel.

As I streamed the first 10 minutes of Zero, I told myself, "What the hell were you thinking, streaming Zero?! Look what they're making you relive. They're confronting you with the reality that Arashi is disappearing after 2020... probably for forever. What do you need this reminder for?!" It didn't help that the staff at Zero had compiled a VTR of Arashi's history; just watching that filled my eyes with tears. Seriously, my whole face was soaked.

But I'm glad I decided to in the end, because Sho saved me last night.

Udou-san: 復活はありますか?(Will Arashi return?)
Sho: (without hesitation, immediately) ありますあります、ありますよ!(YES, yes!)

I let out a sigh of relief that I didn't even know I was holding in.

Watching Sho laugh at #大野くんの夏休み (Ohno-kun's Summer Vacation) and #今日から嵐ファン全員で嵐5人を幸せにしてやるよ (Let Arashi Fans Make Arashi Happy From Now On) healed me immensely. He knows!! Somehow that knowledge made me feel better. I felt less broken.

It may be euphemistic, but this is a way of letting Arashi know that we understand and support their decision; one that they made together as 5. It conveys our love to them, a promise that we'll still be here when they come back, and serves as a testament to the unique bond that Arashi has with their fans. At their very core, Arashi symbolizes the dreams we'd never dared to dream of and the courage we never knew we had. They stand for goodness and positivity in my life.

Every bit of my life is filled with Arashi: Not just their goods (lol) but their motto and their mantra. Be it their professional attitudes, their outlook on life or their genuine treatment of others, I have grown so much because of them and my perspectives have been reshaped for the better. Arashi will always be irreplaceable to me.

Some say that the more people you let into your life, the easier it is for them to walk straight out.
I'd say that that's kinda true. But the love you feel far outweighs the pain. That love is so worth it.

I am eternally grateful that I became an Arashi fan. If it weren't for them, I would never have gotten to know the joy of coming to understand a foreign language, nor would I have met so many other people and even establish friendships with some. There hasn't been a day since I became a fan when I don't feel blessed by Arashi's presence in my life, and that sentiment will always remain in me for the rest of my life.

I've yet to fully come to terms with their decision; I don't think I will ever be okay with it. But I know that no matter what, Arashi has affected me on a cellular level and their legacy will always be present within me and my being. I will never be ready to say goodbye to them, but when 2020 rolls around, I hope I'll be able to summon enough courage to say, "See you later. Remember to come back because I'll always be waiting."

Happy Birthday, Sho-chan!!

Sooooo I've put off my birthday post for *cough* 25th of January is already over in JST *cough but it's still Sho's birthday here so I still get to pour out my love for this cute 35 year old :D

Sho definitely has many talents, the most celebrated ones being his ability to rap extremely well and his newscasting abilities.
But what I appreciate the most about Sho is his character - his constant concern for Arashi's fans, and even the concern he has for the other members. He's really like a Mom (Mama Sho pls) and everytime I see how he goes along with Ohmiya's pranks/jokes, how he never fails to involve Masaki in conversations and how he encourages Jun's nerdy bonsai talk (omg Jun pls stop with the bonsai talk lol) it just really warms my heart!

To the other members, he's their shadow leader: basically the person who gets things organised and ensures that things get done lol aka the serious dude who's on task. I'm just so proud of everything that Sho has achieved thus far - he definitely has worked his butt off and deserves all the accomplishments he has right now - and I'm thankful for his presence in Arashi; for shaping them to be the loving group that they are today :)

Let's all just take a few minutes to appreciate this amazing human being:

chibi Sho is so cute?!

someone save me ahhhhh

my current wallpaper bc he just looks too damn good in this photo

I hope that in his 35th year, he'll be able to enjoy more food (because Sho x food is the ultimate OTP) and achieve even greater recognition for all his hard work!!

Once again, お誕生日おめでとう 翔くん!!<3

Happy Birthday Aiba-chan!

Happy 34th birthday to Aiba-chan!!
The mood-maker of Arashi and the source of motivation for Arashi when things get tough. <3

LOOK HOW FLUFFY HE IS OMG (anan really does one of the best shoots)

Speaking from my personal experience working with people, I do know the importance of having optimistic people around when tensions rise among the group. This is the reason why Aiba-kun's presence in Arashi has always been important, because he constantly uplifts them with his own carefree outlook on life.

People may see Aiba as tennen, which moreoften than not, has a negative connotation. But I think that Aiba's tennen side is what makes him all the more genuine in his interactions with others! It's his advantage at any rate, at least to me... It's what makes Aiba, Aiba. :)

In all things, here's wishing the best of health and the best wishes for a great year for Aiba-chan! May this middle child always be blessed by his other members and by the industry in the upcoming year too ^^
  • Current Music: Kitto Daijoubu

Nikkei January 2017 - Translations for Nino's Feature

I actually translated this a few weeks back on Twitter here, but I feel like I should post some translations on LJ too to keep my journal alive HAHA and also because Nino says some of the wisest things even though he doesn't seem the type to. Do note that I'm not a professional translator, and also that I translate from Chinese to English (which was translated from Japanese) so there might be errors in translations - feel free to let me know :D

Here goes!

He has won the Best Actor in the Japan Academy Awards in 2016. He has spent a length of time filming this year for his next work, “Last Recipe~ Kirin no Shida no Kioku” (directed by Yojiro Takita), premiering in cinemas in Autumn 2017.

2016 is truly a successful and fulfilling year for someone who always says “maintaining our current situation is the best”. Our interview begins in the usual Nino style.

N: I always say “maintain our current situation, maintain our current situation” every year, but if I keep saying this it becomes meaningless right? (laughs) It’s easy for people to see this as a conservative mindset, but I feel that by replying “to maintain my current situation” whenever I’m asked “what is your goal for next year?” I will have a good year ahead.

He meets the director, Yojiro Takita for the first time. It is also their first time working together. This is what he says about his character as a genius chef in the movie -

N: I don’t specially do any preparation in terms of cooking and didn’t have any difficult moments. Even though people will misunderstand this, but I have always not forced myself to do anything that I cannot do.

So although it’s a compliment if someone told me “you cook like a real chef!”, on a certain level I’ll find it hard to accept this comment because at that moment they don’t see me as an actor taking up a role.

Since my profession is a unique one, I do get many compliments for my acting, but I question what kind of a job will allow a 33 year-old to be complimented for cutting vegetables? It’s hard to grasp the nature of this profession, so I’m also determined not to do too many extra things.

People will definitely ask me how it feels like since I’m meeting the director for the first time, but in this line of work basically everything is new where we do things “for the first time”, so I’m often at a loss at answering this (laughs). Because we’re always experiencing things for the first time.

His thoughts on Arashi’s Arena tour, after their last one 9 years ago -

N: There was a period of time where Arashi only toured around the 5 major cities, but it wasn’t only fans from these cities who came to watch, there were fans from all over the country who came for our concert. This time with Arashi going to more places to hold a concert, it’s a beginning; we want to shorten the distance as much as possible.

Looking at the outcome, being able to go to different areas is a good thing. Although the content of the Arena tour is based on what we did in our Dome tour, but we express the ideas differently and do things differently as well. The concept of doing it as a “show” is also a good experience.

It’s a good thing for the group if we’re able to do this on a regular basis. But there’s also the question of practicality. Leader and J toured at the same time that they were filming, and I’m not confident of completing other projects at the same time with our tour schedules. Every member might think of this differently, but to me, I’ll probably prioritise and think about taking up certain projects while giving up on some.

I guess it’s because I’m the kind of person who focuses on completing one particular task at a time. I don’t like it when things overlap with each other and time runs out for one project, which will be a burden and a trouble to many people.

To Ninomiya, who adopts a “never look back” mentality, 2016 has been a happy year.

N: Although there isn’t one specific incident, but I feel that this year has been a good one. If I have to give a reason, it’s probably because I’m fortunate enough to maintain my current situation, which gave me many opportunities to do many different things.

Summing up this year in one kanji? It’s like asking why the name of our group is one kanji. There’s only “Arashi”, isn’t it?
  • Current Music: Ups and Downs


大野くん お誕生日おめでとう!!

On the surface, Ohno looks super chill and doesn't comment on much, choosing to keep his thoughts to himself instead most times, but what's hidden with his silence is his immense talent! I remain in awe whenever I think about how talented he is - from his amazing singing, to his creativity in choreographing dances (I LOVE THE ONE HE CHOREOGRAPHED FOR TRAP), to the way he expresses himself and his experiences through his art and drawings.

It's normally hard for a person to have even one singular talent and actually be good at it, which makes me love Ohno even more since he can do all 3 equally well! I'm so proud of how far he's come in the past 20 odd years in this industry; one thing I'm sure of is that Arashi would definitely be a very different group without him. There were definitely people who questioned what kind of leader he is, since he doesn't direct the other group members and "set the rules" needed for a group. But his unique leadership style - placing the rest at the forefront while foresaking his own time in the spotlight - is one that is selfless, and gave Arashi the space they needed to grow both as individuals and as a group. It's the respect that the other four give him as well that demonstrates the love they have for him as their leader, simply by virtue of the fact that Ohno respects them too.

So thank you, Oh-chan, for being the amazing individual you are (and have always been) and for shaping Arashi to be who they are today on the global stage. Happy 36th!

P.S.: He definitely does not look like he's 36....
  • Current Music: Pikanchi Double

手越くん お誕生日おめでとう!

I'm a few minutes late in JST, but technically it's still 11pm here so....... I'm not late

Thank you for always making me laugh so much and bringing in so much joy into my life <3 I just love that you're basically brilliant at whatever you set yourself to do AND YOU DO IT WITH SO MUCH DETERMINATION that even when you fail, everyone else is won over by how much spirit you have. It's also the reason why you've got so much success, because of such an amazing personality :)

I also never fail to be taken away by your voice, especially your solos omg the amount of feeling in them... Can't even believe that you're only turning 29 lol you still look about 25?! The blonde hair really helps, I think xD

Last but not least, gonna leave an amazing screenie of Tego's butt here because this butt is also 29 years old today hehe watching Tego do no-hands pants made me laugh like shit again HAHA happy birthday again Tego!!!!

how can one not gush over Nino??

ahhhhhh can we just take a moment to appreciate how cute Nino is omg I mean...

Did I just stumble upon a cutie being surprised at the appearance of penguins? xD

This little cutie struggling to carry everything and walking into the room hehe

"Oh, how about I just sit here and talk to the penguins while I wait for the clothes to be washed??" YES DO THAT

"Oh my, it's really clean isn't it?" JUST LOOK AT HIS CUTE LITTLE FACE AHHH

His fringe too hehe makes him look like a little boy which he technically is
Makes me want to buy nanox even HAHAHA #marketingdoneright

As usual, thank you weibo for sharing these photos!!

P.S.: Currently putting Time album on major repeat haha need to find time to watch the con oops
  • Current Music: Cry For You

Sho Getting Slammed

I watched the episode of Abunai Yakai that was aired on 27th October over the weekend, and felt annoyed yet again at the way Sho is portrayed on that bangumi. I know I've ranted and complained about this multiple times on both tumblr and twitter, but I somehow feel the need to detail my annoyance.

Context/backstory for people who are unaware (dating back to the point when I joined the fandom and became aware of this whole Sho slamming business) -

9th October 2014

The episode in Hawaii that revealed how he spent his personal time was the one that really highlighted the extent to which he was being put down to me... First by calling him ダサイ (along the lines of outdated, old-fashioned) because he likes wearing camo print. As if a man should be criticised for his liking of camo print?!

25th February 2016

And then going further to say that he and Jun are on bad terms. Yes I know that Sakumoto isn't the most clingy of ships, but the show seems to be suggesting that they're enemies or something and that they can't even stand the sight of each other, basically doubting the bonds that have definitely emerged in their many years of being together in the same group.

Ariyoshi then repeats himself again:

14th April 2016: "So it's true that you guys are on bad terms?"

Even going as far as to blame Sho and saying that it's his fault for the supposed "bad relationship" that they have.

They extended this accusation to Sho's relationship with Takki as well:

14th July 2016

There was even a board done up to supposedly trace the root of their bad relations...

Granted, Sho and Takki haven't been on the best of terms. In fact, as the bangumi progressed and Takki and Sho had their own corner to talk about certain issues they had between them, Sho acknowledged that there was indeed some tensions between them because Takki was expected to debut around the time that Arashi debuted; probably even supposed to be in Arashi himself. However, I don't think those are grounds to blame Sho for, and basically framing him as this utterly unfriendly person.

While I was watching the episode with Chinen guesting on it, I was then not surprised to see that they did the same thing. Sho nicely summed up the supposed number of guests on the show now who have "bad relations" with him:

Come on, even Chinen couldn't lie about it seriously. He's laughing as Sho's checking the list of people off. Not even sure how much of this is scripted but oh well.

27th October 2016

Even Sho's so done with this. I feel you Sho, I do.

I'm just curious - does slamming Sho give the show better ratings? Because I would boycott the show if all they did was put him down. Once again, if it's meant to be a joke, it can only be funny the first time round. Repeatedly using the same old "joke" from then on doesn't make it any funnier - it just becomes bullying. On national television. For an audience they assume is entertained by bullying Sho.

Of course, Sho's not perfect and he has his flaws (as do we all), but it's just so annoying to see his flaws - which is a problematic term as well because why is his love for camo print clothing a flaw, he's allowed to have personal preferences and tastes - being blown up way out of proportion while his merits get diminished. He's so much more than ダサイ, he's an amazing newscaster, actor, singer and idol. Why is it that they cannot capture the amount of professionalism he exudes and instead consciously choose to exaggerate his flaws? It just breaks my heart everytime someone puts Sho down like this. The spate of incidents relating to Sho getting slammed unfortunately confirms that I won't be watching any more episodes of Abunai Yakai any time soon...
  • Current Music: Face Down