On August 19 and 20, Johnnys’ Jr. held the event “ALL Johnnys’ Jr. 2023 Wasshoi CAMP! in Dome” at Tokyo Dome, following the first run held July 16 and 17 at Kyocera Dome Osaka. As the name suggests, the event saw all of Johnny & Associates’ trainees, about 200 in total ranging in age from 6 to 28, take the stage. This is the first time a Jr. event in both the Tokyo and Osaka domes has taken place since October 2000. Directed by KAT-TUN‘s Kazuya Kamenashi, the event saw the Jrs. performing both original songs and songs by their senpai acts.
Fan speculation has been rife since the event’s announcement that “ALL Johnnys’ Jr. 2023 Wasshoi CAMP! in Dome” was going to include debut announcements for popular Johnnys’ Jr. groups such as Bishonen, HiHi Jets, and Ae! group. While this was not the case, Yoshihiko Inohara, President of Johnnys’ Island, did make a statement that has garnered attention on social media.
“A CD debut is a Johnny’s tradition, but it should not be seen as the singular goal or career starting point. The goal of a Jr. is to grow as a person in order to make many people happy,” Inohara said. He continued, “The concept of debut may also change with the times, and I talk to staff everyday about what that might look like.”
While his comment has spurred a lot of undue panic at the notion of Johnny & Associates abandoning CD debuts altogether, this is not necessarily the case. The company is very well aware of the way music consumption has changed over the years. They are also aware of how streaming is gaining traction in Japan, having already become the main way of consuming music around the world. This is part of the reason why Travis Japan has yet to release a CD, even though they debuted last year. Travis Japan’s CD-less debut is a step towards Johnny & Associates matching the needs of music consumption’s global standard.
Inohara hinting at the possibility of more debuts outside what has become the standard expected of Johnny’s acts over the years doesn’t have a clear timetable. Being a reaction to overall market trends, it could be this year, next year, a decade from now, or never; depending on the act in question.