A new episode of XG’s documentary series ‘XTRA XTRA’ dropped today, delivering the first real look at the days before XG became 7 members and the time they spent together training with other hopefuls who would ultimately get dropped from the lineup.
Episode 1 of XTRA XTRA tells the story of XG’s early training days, including how old they were when they first auditioned, how many trainees were considered for the lineup, and hardships that happened along the way before their producer decided on which members would go on to train in South Korea. Episode 1 also gives fans an inside look of how the group’s agency ‘XGALX’ was formed and changes that it underwent since its establishment.
One of the first scenes from the episode shows footage from November 2019, where producer Simon ‘JAKOPS’ is delivering some sad news to a group of girls in the XGALX studio. He is visibly upset while speaking to them, and ultimately takes his leave, leaving the girls to process their disappointment together. The next scene cuts to 18 hours earlier, where Simon is talking to the camera about how he has to make a decision because time is ticking.
This is followed by a montage of articles about XG and their accomplishments written by publications from around the world. This is overlapped by Simon giving a speech to higher-up executives about what his goals and aims are for starting a new agency. “X-GALAXY is a project to train and debut artists who can perform on a global stage. The most important thing is our ambition to become stars. We are serious. We will definitely create stars,” he says.
Simon then reveals that the original name of XGALX was ‘X-GALAXY.’ The meaning behind the name ‘X-GALAXY’ was that the artists would possess both love and charm and be able to convey their messages through performances that highlight their individual character and team color. Essentially the group name XG is embedded into the agency’s identity.
We are then transported back to January 2017, and see some of the very first audition footage of each member of XG simultaneously followed by confessional-style interviews where each member talks about her initial feelings about the audition.
We are first introduced to member Jurin who was 15 years old at the start of the audition. She reveals that she had been snowboarding since she was young and went pro at age 12. After she achieved the goal of going pro, she started to think more seriously about what she wanted to do in life, and found that her new goal was to be in a girl group and express things that have never been done before.
Harvey is the next member introduced. At the time of the audition she was 14 years old and active as a model. “I wanted to try something new which turned into a strong desire to do something that nobody has ever done before. The thing that matched that feeling the best was the XGALX audition,” she says in her interview.
Footage from the audition of member Cocona is then seen, who was 11 years old at the time. In her interview she expresses that the project felt like it was her destiny. “I’d been exposed to dancing, singing, and rapping since I was little. It was my first time being involved in a project like this so I was nervous, but I felt that this was my destiny so I decided to join,” she explains.
Juria, who was 12 years old at the time of the audition, reveals that it had been her dream since childhood to become a global artist. “XGALX really matched my dream, so that’s why I joined,” she adds.
Maya was 11 years old in her audition footage. In her interview she confidently declares that at the time she was set on making sure she got chosen. “I was just so convinced that this project was nothing like what I had done before and intuitively felt like this project was going to be my life,” she says.
Hinata is then introduced, and it is revealed that she was 15 at the time of the audition. “I used to attend a dance class in my neighborhood and the staff there told me that there’s a little test coming up,” she explains. The “little test” would ultimately be the XGALX audition.
And finally, the last member Chisa is introduced and she was 15 years old at the time. About the audition she says, “I felt that my entire life had led me to that moment.”
The next scene flashes forward to June 2018 where there are now 21 girls training under XGALX with hopes to become a member of the debut team. The girls are shown curiously exploring the new XGALX studio.
Simon’s present day voiceover can then be heard explaining how he debuted as an idol in South Korea and then transitioned into a songwriter and producer. “I had a dream of creating my own artist team,” he says. “I know it may sound grandiose, but I truly wanted to create a one-of-a-kind team that the world had never seen before.”
Still in the footage from June 2018, Simon takes the 21 girls into the studio to show them the demo of a song he had been working on. This was to give the girls an idea of the musical direction he was envisioning for the team.
A clip from October 7th, 2017 of 36 girls being formally introduced to Simon at the CHIBA Training camp is then shown followed by a montage of the girls training. Simon’s voiceover can be heard saying he wrote the demo from his experience working with the girls and how their passion inspired him to create the song. The audience can’t hear the song, but each of the members of XG express their initial feelings about it in their interview scenes. “I was totally convinced that I should follow Simon,” Jurin reveals about her first impression of the demo. “It was such an earworm. I remember thinking that we could take over the world with this track,” says Juria.
Up next is footage from July 2018, where some of the girls who traveled from outside of Tokyo begin their dorm life together. Typical behavior for young girls who start living together in a dorm, some of the trainees decide to take a silly picture trying to all fit inside of a bathtub. A picture is taken and uploaded to SNS by a trainee named Kamiya. The next morning at practice, Simon confronts the members about it and scolds them. He tells them that they will lose respect from people and look ‘lame’ if they continue with that kind of behavior.
A few days later, the 21 girls are seen posting a farewell message on their personal instagram accounts explaining that they would no longer be active on social media due to pursuing their dreams.
A diagram of the 21 girls labeled with “Rank 02” , “Rank 03”, and “Next” is then revealed. “Rank 02” members include Airi Ito, Airi Kamiya, Chisa, Cocona, Hanna, Harvey, Hikaru, Hina, Hinata, Jurin, Rina, Risa, Maju, Maya, Rei, and Yui. “Rank 03” consisted of Asha, Rino Kaneko, Rino Mikami. “Next” consisted of Juria and Rion.
We then see footage of the vigorous training the girls had undergone for dancing. Chisa is shown crying in one clip, but the teacher expresses his admiration for her determination to not give up. It is then revealed that the girls are expected to learn a new choreography and Simon will pick which members will go to the South Korea training camp based on how well they do. In Maya’s interview she expresses how she was happy to be chosen, but felt bad for the girls who were not.
A clarification chart about the ranks then appears on screen. It states “XGALX members are ranked 03, 02, 01, and 00, with 00 being debut status. Rank 03/Next XGALX is trainee tier 2, Rank 02 is trainee tier 1, Rank 01 is a debut candidate, and 00 is a fully fledged XGALX artist. “Ranks are updated constantly, always with the possibility that some members may not make it”
The episode ends off with the selection announcement that was held on July 29th, 2018. Trainees Asha, Rino, Amane, Hina, and Hanna were revealed to have dropped down to Rank 03. “I never thought that Hina and Hanna wouldn’t be able to go (to South Korea), so I was really shocked,” says Maya in her confessional. 15 girls, including the 7 who would go on to become XG end up being eligible to go to the training camp in South Korea, which seems to be the focus of the next episode.
Episode 1 ends off with Simon saying “My goal for the group is simple: to create an artist group with a strong character, mindset, and humanity, that has a clear message and vision. A group with global sensibility, and can be loved by anyone, regardless of language or culture.”
Episode 1 of XTRA XTRA is off to a great start. Hearing Simon and the girls express how their goals and visions aligned made me feel like this team from the start has been so well thought out.
One thing that really surprised me about this episode was how old Cocona and Maya were when they first auditioned. They were such babies, but already so skilled after their first year of training. As a fan of XG, I already knew that Jurin was a pro snowboarder, but I’m very curious to how new viewers who watch the documentary and read this review will react when they find out. I’m sure they will think she is the coolest girl ever.
The scene where Simon was scolding them for taking a humorous photo in the bathtub made me realize that he is very focused and serious about the project. That scene may come off as harsh to some viewers, but I feel that the girls are in good hands with someone responsible like him.
The ranking system was really interesting. It will be exciting to see how the trainees progress or get dropped in the upcoming episodes. Juria who is in XG now was in the “Next” rank for a majority in this episode, and ended it off in “Rank 02” which is a big improvement!