Way Back When: JE’s NEWS! (I Loved You Like No Other)

The monthly blurb is here again! Yay for consistency.

I’d given Nishikido Ryo an entire entry – okay, not really, he shared it with my His Hotness Lee Dong Wook in this Timeout – and digging through my old stash of his photos and such when I wrote that post brings me back to a time when I was literally and embarrassingly obsessed and fangirling about a six-person Japanese boy band called NEWS. I know, I know – of all names they could’ve gone with, they went with the most generic one ever that Google searching can be a real b*tch.

Because this is a Way Back When entry, I’m allowed to do introductions, ha.

L-R: Tegoshi, Shige, Ryo, Yamapi, Koyama & Massu.
L-R: Tegoshi, Shige, Ryo, Yamapi, Koyama & Massu.

NEWS has quite a past – they’re one of the plenty Johnny’s group in JPop-land and if the word Johnny’s rings no bell, I’ll explain briefly: they’re like the Big Three in KPop, except their specialty is mostly specifically in idol boy bands. Not all groups are created equal and unfortunately, NEWS‘ rise to the top and more crucially, maintenance of that top spot was an uphill battle, to say the least.

They debuted as a 9-person group in 2003 with a song aptly (okay, lamely) titled NEWS Nippon but lost three members shortly after. If my memory serves me right, one left the team and the other two were caught underage drinking and suspended from active status. The remaining six, whom were the ones I got to know, obsessed over and all that jazz – they’re in this photo below. Ah, good times.

My encounter with them was honestly, purely accidental. I fell for Yamapi, the leader, which led to my attempts to watch all his Jdramas – I’ve watched almost all of his during the peak of his popularity in 2006 – 2009 or so – and more importantly, lots of Googling sessions whereby I’d scour the World Wide Web for YouTube videos, magazine scans and interviews. All that scouring reached a pinnacle in the form of…

That above is an awesome commercial; this link ought to bring you to the actual WeeeeK PV:

NEWS WeeeeK PV

OMG, squeeee. This PV was all kinds of awesome and remains one of my favorites from them – and really just one of my favorite music videos, period – and made me sit up and took notice of – guess who? – Nishikido Ryo. In my mind, I went “Wait, wait… I’ve seen him somewhere else before!” Obviously, more Googling. More stumbling upon interviews and back stories, where I found out that him and Yamapi go way back in terms of friendship and more discovery of a term so unfamiliar then: a combination of two people’s names, associated for whatever reasons. RyoPi. Ah, this was my first taste of bromance.

Whenever there were magazine scans which featured the both of them, I’d download and grab. Pretty soon these lovely photos became my laptop wallpapers, much to my now-embarrassment and on a larger spectrum, all my elder siblings’ embarrassments then. For instance, I once had a photo of shirtless Ryo as the wallpaper-of-the-week and Third Sis, who’d intended to borrow my laptop for a second, saw it and immediately went, “Why the hell do you have a shirtless guy on your computer?!” I was… 15, I believe, and she 17, which was probably why she screamed bloody murder. Whenever I think back of this memory – and plenty others – I’d laugh at my silliness.

Back then – gosh, sounds ancient – downloading was excruciatingly slow but I pushed through with lots of patience and determination. I’d download every friggin’ new PV, interviews, weekly promotions at music shows and … yeah, you get the idea. In true fangirl-gone-official move, their songs were pretty much on infinite loop and previously a lurker on the internet, I starting surfacing at LiveJournal blog communities. My comments were much like any infatuated fangirl – I spazzed and squeed like nobody’s business.

I’d joined the wagon in anticipating comeback dates, counting down the dates to concert DVDs and when they were finally released, I’d painstakingly downloaded them for hours to no end. The moment I discovered the existence of the annual calendars and their availability in the local Kinokuniya – despite being some crazy 100 plus Malaysian Ringgit! – I dragged Eldest Sis, who was often the person I’d rant on about Ryo to, to the bookstore and purchased my first physical NEWS collectible item: the 2008-2009 calendar.

NEWS Calendar 2008-2009
NEWS Calendar 2008-2009

The thing is though, I’m a closeted Asian entertainment fan, despite actively watching dramas since 9 years old and following a million Asian entertainment news sites, blogs, forums and more. At the end of high school, I told Eldest Sis that despite whatever will take place in Real Life, this love is forever. So convinced and… so mistaken, I was.

In college, I kept abreast with the news and such but slowly rekindled my interest in Kdramas, thus my interest in the JPop-sphere slowly dwindled. Plus, due to the unbalanced popularity of the members – Yamapi and Ryo were hot commodity even then, sub-unit Tegomass were doing alright and Koyama was perhaps more known for his MC-ing stints while Shige… was awkward, endearing Shige for a long time then – their comebacks were often far and few in-between. It didn’t help that Ryo‘s loyalty was divided; he belonged to another group, Kanjani8 who were becoming increasingly popular then that he was busy promoting their stuff more than NEWS‘.

Needless to say, in the far and few, seasons changed and I grew up, too.

The one thing I kept consistent was purchasing their calendars, up until their last one and faithfully awaiting new single releases. Here’s some photos of items I have, including a few CDs I’d received as gifts from Eldest Bro’s Japanese friend and the color album of theirs I’d purchased myself.

I continued to watch their videos here and there, squeeing at hints of love between RyoPi, but slowly I came to realize that they were very likely putting on a front.

In October 2011, after almost a year of inactivity, they finally made it official: Ryo and Yamapi, my two favorites, were leaving the group.

I’d grown up lots then but I won’t lie – I was heartbroken and I did feel betrayed.

Yamapi‘s solo career was blooming and for Ryo, it was really a matter of time; he had to choose between the two groups eventually. Deep in my fangirl heart I knew he’d always leaned towards Kanjani8, yet I couldn’t help but feel sad for NEWS anyway. Most especially, I felt bad for the remaining four – they were in a limbo and it was obvious that even they wondered if their star powers were enough to sustain the group, it’s popularity and relevance. Is there a market, a space, for them to still continue on as NEWS?

Fast forward to a year and a half since then: we meet in present-day, 2013.

I believe Yamapi is still very popular, though I’ve stopped listening to his music – his voice is nothing to sing home about, frankly and neither are his songs – and I haven’t watched anything recent of his in a long time. Not that I dislike him – hardly, he’ll always have a soft spot in my heart – but rather because none of the materials are my type at all. Unfortunately, I don’t love him enough to sit through uninteresting shows.

Ryo on the other hand, is positively moving forward in the acting department. Kanjani8 is also doing extremely well even right now that in hindsight, the breakup from NEWS really is inevitable. He’s at his peak in his career now, I believe but every now and then whenever I’d catch on a random, recent video of him, he seems very much the same: shy, awkward and frank.

As for NEWS, the focus of the day… Good news!

NEWS is now a 4-member group – final number, they’d promised – and recently held a concert. I’d watched this video and they were in tears so much, clearly overcome with emotions and overflowing gratitude that I couldn’t help but soften and cheer them on. I hope they remain in the scene for many years to come because I want these 4 to be testament that good guys do finish last.

This Way Back When is long, but the walk down fangirl memory lane – my one and only, really – has been fun! I’ll end with one of my favorite shot of them because to me, contrary to all the things that have taken place in Real Life and despite the fact that they might’ve actually faked the team love before, in my hearts of hearts, they will always be 6-person NEWS.

NEWS, circa 2010/2011.
NEWS, circa 2010/2011.

While I do tend to look back and scream WTFery at the atrocious costumes, androgynous looks and more – what was I ogling over, again? – I do sincerely love them and think dearly of them because they bring me back to a time when I was innocent, full of youthful exuberance and just… gloriously teen aged, silly and believed so strongly that this love was forever.

NEWS, I believe you’re my first (crazy)love; thank you for the memories.

Disclaimer: Thank you as always to Inala @ LJ for the lovely calendar scans!
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