September 18, 2008

an essential guy

山下翔央, Yamashita Shoon, Ya-Ya-yah
I felt the need to write this entry after reading a certain post on the LJ of a fan friend, Hydee(a.k.a. ixarese).

I've been trying to avoid writing entries like this because I want to stop angsting over fandom stuff, but for once I'm perfectly calm and content fandom-wise, so I thought I might as well try to dispel the fog of worry that seems to be settling down around Shoon.

In the past months I've learned what it is like to feel down and worried for 4 Japanese idols I became a fan of. Time has passed, and their lives go on, and so does mine, and the world didn't crumble, but there were moments when I felt really, really deppressed. It felt as if somebody I loved had died. Looking back at it now I don't feel ashamed of having felt so strongly about it (and I still do), but I wish I had found a way to see it more rationally and suffer less, or at least recover earlier.

That's why in the past weeks I've let many "rant occasions" pass.

A couple of weeks ago, for instance, there was all this commotion because of a letter JE sent to the members of JFC (Johnny's Family Club) to ask fans to behave properly (i.e. no stalking, etc.) A number of messages supposedly written by each of the members of Arashi, NEWS, KAT-TUN and HSJ, and by Hasshi on behalf of the juniors started spreading on line. When I learned about it, it made me feel so disgusted and so bad that I read everybody's rants and comments on the matter, but I was unable to voice my opinion. You know, much like when you have a lump in your throat.

Now we know the messages were fake (several JFC members have confirmed they only received a letter; no messages), that they were most likely made up by some Japanese fan, but at first nobody knew where they had come from, so naturally all of us felt awful. It only felt all the more awful with all those supposedly real messages. It doesn't matter that they were false though, because they're probably based on things that really happen, like some cases you can read about here.

Anyway. I didn't write a rant about it, so... how did I react to it?
1) Felt awful and, being a bit of a masochist, read every rant/comment I found.
2) Felt guilty even though I've never stalked or harassed any JE boy (or anybody else for that matter).
3) Deleted the paparazzi pictures from my Flickr album. I haven't deleted the ones on my hard disk, though, I must admit; I'm weak. .__. Shoon is too cute/cool in many of them. ^^;;; But they're all pics I found online; I don't own a single paparazzi pic. In fact... how come it isn't illegal in Japan to take paparazzi pics of underaged celebrities? Here in Spain it is.
4) Considered leaving the fandom because I kept thinking "I don't want to ever get obsessed to that point; I don't want to cause, even indirectly, any harm to Shoon".
5) Realized I was exaggerating.

I'm glad I didn't write that rant and spent that time doing other things instead. Now the commotion has passed I can put things in perspective, and I'm thinking of doing something that might be of actual help, like starting an awareness campaign against paparazzi pics if people didn't buy them, the paparazzi wouldn't bother taking them, right?

Another recent instance in which I managed to escape the temptation to rant was when it was reported that a certain Japanese tabloid had published an article about a rumour that claimed some Japanese A.B.C. fans had attended Summary with Shoon-bashing uchiwas.

I believe certain fans capable of that shameful behaviour, but it was a rumour, and it was coming from a tabloid as well, so I told myself to calm down. Actually, even if it were true, I'm sure Shoon can tell sensible, respectful fans apart from petty, unfeeling fanatics. Also, he's strong, and I'm sure he wouldn't let it bother him for long. As Socrates once said, if an ass kicked you, would you go and sue it? =)

Yeah, I didn't let that dampen my spirits, and that was another rant ocassion successfully avoided. 8Dv

Now, there's a bit of angst in the junior fandom lately surrounding A.B.C., Hasshi... and Shoon as well. It's strange for me in what regards Shoon because I'm "happy" with his current situation. I say "happy", with quotation marks because of course I'll always want more for him, but what really matters is that almost one year after Ya-Ya-yah's break up he's still standing. Plus he's still fighing... and how! With nails and teeth. =)

Tinuviel228 left a comment on one of the previous entries saying: Sometimes, when I see Shoon now, I wonder why he couldn't have been like this a bit sooner... is it because he didn't try as hard before or was it because he didn't get the chance?

My reply was that -and this is mere speculation on my part- I think he went through a rough period and was somewhat indifferent towards his job for a while, roughly between mid 2004 and early 2006, during the time he became little else than Yabu-Hika's shadow with Taiyô. Also, I don't mean to say it was traumatic for him, but mid 2004 was the time when Hoshino left JE, and they were undeniably close, so that probably brought him down quite a bit. Back to what I was saying, neither Taiyô nor him got to do much for a long while, and Shoon strikes me as a person who doesn't want to stand out (i.e. be the star of the show), but who loves challenges and doing new things.

He had a couple of challenges/chances during that time though, West Side Story and Satomi Hakkenden. I think WSS was a bit too stressing for him to enjoy the experience fully - after all he was measuring himself against people like Ohno, Matsumoto Jun, or Ikuta Toma. JE clearly had high expectations from him at the time. Pity those expectations seem to come and go. =/

Shoon himself has admitted he wasn't much more comfortable at first when filming Satomi Hakkenden, surrounded by older people, and that's where the big-hearted senpai episode took place - meaning Takki, most likely. =) He looked very happy and comfortable when he appeared on Tokyo Friend Park with the rest of the cast afterwards, though. ^___^ It was just a small role, like in WSS, but sufficient for him to be noticed. =)

I think I need to clarify that when I say he went through a "rough period" I don't mean it was rough for him all the time. It obviously had its ups and downs. ^^ But largely, and in particular in what regarded his place in Ya-Ya-yah and the juniors, just like Taiyô, he was hardly getting attention. You can't call "getting attention" to being little more than a backsinger/backdancer whenever they performed. On the Ya-Ya-yah show he didn't get lots of attention either, just ocassionally and with the exception of the AiQ skits. There are several rankling examples of Ya-Ya-yah episodes in which Taiyô and Shoon merely trailed behind Yabu and Hikaru like ducklings.

Anyway, my point is that partly I'd say that yes, he didn't get many chances to show what he was worth other than the ones I mentioned above, and also that I have a feeling he came to a point at which he didn't care much because he probably felt things were not going to change. I mean that for a long while it looked as if, even if they debuted, Taiyô and him would always be in the background.

Things started to look up gradually sometime in 2006 - I'd say in the Summer, when he was given his own original solo (BadxNice), when he had some lines and a bit of spotlight in SummerxSummerxSummer, and also when Hikaru became part of Kitty and was away and busy with the KittyGYM stuff for a while.

Little by little Taiyô started getting some more attention too, and they both started looking happier, and increasingly more self-confident. In short, things were getting more levelled inside Ya-Ya-yah, and then came rumours of debut and... well, you know what happened then, so I'll just skip that part. You don't mind, do you? ^^ We've talked about it long enough, and that was a hurtful period that's best buried and forgotten.

Though I imagine that must have hurt a lot more for Shoon, he was really brave and mature about it, just like Taiyô, Hikaru, and Yabu were, and he hardly let it show. For a while he had the look of a boxer who's a bit groggy after having been hit hard, but he hadn't been knocked out, and little by little he regained his ground and started punching back, harder every time. =) And that's the way to go about anything in life, you know, because when life punches you in the face, you have to punch back harder.

Now Shoon knows there's a lot of people who support him and he looks content and confident and seeing him go through all this has made me see that I shouldn't worry so much about him, and believe in him. Or, as a Chinese proverb says: "You cannot prevent the birds of worry and care from flying over your head. But you can stop them from building a nest in your head."

What's going to become of Shoon?, many wonder. Only JE knows, but I'm not going to let myself fret. Whether he joins A.B.C. or not, whether he debuts with other juniors HSJ style or not, whether he becomes the next Toma or the next Tôshin, I know he's going to be okay. Once I described Shoon as a "lonely reed", and everyday I'm more convinved it's a fitting description. Reeds are not broken even by the strongest wind. They bend with the wind and then straighten again. Shoon is flexible too and has shown he can face any challenge and pull it off gracefully.

And he is going to be fine... because he is an essential guy. *points to the pic below* That's a page from a beauty/entertainment magazine called Voce (ヴォーチェ), from February of 2005, and lo and behold Shoon is sharing printed space with Matsumoto Jun, Yamapi, and Ryô. According to the magazine he's among "the essential guys", and he's "the next heroe". The philologist in me snickers evilly at how they refer to the other three as "the OTHER heroes" LOL This was back when Shoon was doing WSS (remember mags always go like 2 months ahead), but I know Shoon's got it in him to take his rightful place in the spotlight again. He just needs a little chance... and he'll make the most of it. =)

2005.02 Voce

PS: I'm still catching up; if anybody wants my scans of the September Shoon pages, click here

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