I woke up on Sunday morning and my first sight was the TV flashing an image of Johnny's uber-group Arashi（嵐）on the Sunday night news on NHK. The announcer was intoning his message in a rather sombre voice so that I immediately went "Geez...was there an accident?"
As it turned out, it was nothing dire thankfully. However, Arashi fans and people all over Japan were (and probably still are) in shock over the announcement that Satoshi Ono（大野智）and the rest of the group are calling it quits at the end of next year. However, from what I've gleaned from the press conference so far is that member Kazuya Ninomiya（二宮和也）clarified that it wasn't a disbandment but just that the group won't be performing together after December 2020. Not quite sure where the dividing line is drawn, but my impression is that this may be more of a trial separation rather than an outright divorce. On the other hand, it might be one of those things where if the need comes up, Ono, Nino, Aiba-kun（相葉雅紀）, MatsuJun（松本潤）and Sho Sakurai（櫻井翔）will get together once more to drive fans into a frenzy...kinda like The Avengers.
To be honest, I'm not tha-a-a-t surprised. I had the feeling that leader Ono was getting rather peckish about going his own way and pursuing his own artistic pursuits since he's apparently quite the painter and avid fisherman. But I guess the timing...just a few years after former Johnny's top-of-the-heap SMAP disbanded...caught quite a few people off-guard. Supposedly, one reporter was crying some tears when he asked Arashi a question and Ono looked distinctly misty-eyed. I know that there's at least one former student who may be curled up in a fetal position right now since she has been the greatest Aiba-kun fan.
Sad times for all concerned but hey, there are still almost 2 years left before the storm dissipates. And what a record Arashi will leave. Ever since their debut single 20 years ago, I've realized that the group has had most of their singles hit the top spot on Oricon, and the lowest any of their singles peaked at has been at No. 3! I'm not even sure if SMAP has ever gotten that sort of record.
Therefore, to commemorate this occasion, perhaps I can bring out their 4th single, "Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi" (Deeply Grateful Rain Storm) released in November 2000. I don't have such an intimate connection with the many Arashi singles but I recognized the refrain "Smile again..." which reminds me a bit of Village People's "Go West". Yeah, it's kinda one of those anthemic songs that make you want to salute the sky.
Written by the late Masami Tozawa（戸沢暢美）and composed by Koji Makaino（馬飼野康二）, "Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi" was also the opening theme song for the Fuji-TV drama "Namida wo Fuite"（涙をふいて...Wipe Away Your Tears）which also co-starred Arashi member Ninomiya. Since the show was about a family getting their bearings back from tragedy with the help of their late father's kohai, the inspirational beat of the song fit like a glove. From what I've read about the song on J-Wiki, "Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi" has been used at their concerts to express Arashi's thanks to their many fans.
"Kansha Kangeki Ame Arashi" peaked at No. 2 and ended up as the 86th-ranked single for 2000. It probably would have ended up even higher with an earlier release date. The single was also placed on Arashi's debut album "Arashi No. 1 ~ Arashi wa Arashi o Yobu!"（嵐は嵐を呼ぶ...Arashi Calls Forth A Storm）which was released in January 2001. This release did hit No. 1 to later become the 70th-ranked album for the year.
Well, with the announcement, what's to become of "VS Arashi", one of our family's must-see TV programs? Ahhh...just read that once Arashi goes, so will the variety show at the end of 2020.